Contribute Now to July 2012: Indiana State Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan

by DFER Reformer of the Month

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Mary Ann Sullivan is the kind of Democratic ed reformer you hope to see.

An avid supporter of quality public schools (including public charter schools) and school and classroom accountability in the Indiana state house, she has never been afraid to go it alone in advancing President Obama’s progressive education agenda. In a state where bipartisan compromise on education policy can be incredibly valuable, she has nonetheless been scorned by the lockstep Democratic leadership in the state house.

Today she is running for state senate in what promises to be a very tight race and, bafflingly, the Indiana State Teachers Association has endorsed Mary Ann’s right-wing opponent. The opponent, Brent Waltz, is a conservative Republican who differs with the union on virtually everything – he even voted against full-day kindergarten.

How old is the ISTA playbook? Those dudes would rather put teacher dues money behind a right-wing guy who is terrible for public education than someone they can’t control. It’s so 2004 – they assume elected Democrats shouldn’t express support for better public schools. As Mary Ann puts it: “If you step out of line, they’re going to smack you down. … That’s the message they are delivering.”

Matthew Tully, a trusted columnist at the Indy Star, argues that the union endorsed Mary Ann’s opponent just to spite her:

“It has surely enraged the union to watch Sullivan emerge as perhaps the state’s most thoughtful voice on education policy issues. … [Her opponent] zigs on every issue on which the teachers union zags, and, unlike many Republicans, he has been a non-factor during education debates. His record apparently does not matter to ISTA. All that matters is the point the union is trying to make.”

Beyond her forward-thinking policy positions, Mary Ann also helped get DFER’s Indiana chapter off the ground – we couldn’t have done it without her. Now she needs our help.

Please consider contributing to Mary Ann’s campaign today. A handful of $10 or $25 gifts can really add up, and they say something important: even when you can’t count on institutional support, you can count on people power.