Posted In: Canonical Categories, Educator Voices, Educators, Indiana, States

IN bureaucrats undermine advocate for children, educators, and public schools

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by Brian Washington

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A group of non-elected bureaucrats has circumvented the power and authority of Indiana voters.

The State Board of Education, a ten-member panel comprised mainly of Governor Mike Pence appointees, recently approved some controversial resolutions, including one designed to strip State Superintendent Glenda Ritz of her traditional and legal role as Chair of the board.

Indiana Superintendent Glenda Ritz

Indiana Superintendent Glenda Ritz

As reported by Education Votes in 2012, Ritz was overwhelmingly elected by the people—1.3 million voters—to serve as the leader of K-12 education in the state.

Board members, working in conjunction with Governor Pence’s newly created Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI)—a $14 million agency designed to mirror the work of Indiana’s department of education—approved the resolutions during a meeting last week.

Prior to the meeting, Ritz issued a statement indicating that one of the resolutions—which was ultimately approved—may put the state’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver in jeopardy. The waiver allows the state to escape certain aspects of the flawed legislation.

I have said from the start that I am a strong proponent of renewing and extending our waiver. Unfortunately, the Governor-appointed State Board of Education and his separate education staff (CECI) appear determined to undermine our work. Let me be clear, if passed, this resolution will place our waiver in serious jeopardy. This resolution unfairly questions the honesty and capacity of my administration to implement the waiver and may result in ramifications from Washington.

The Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA), which represents more than 45,000 teachers and education support professionals, gave public testimony about the resolutions, calling the board’s move to strip Ritz of her authority a disservice to voters. ISTA also outlined some important takeaways from the meeting in a recent blog post:

Two very important lessons were gleaned from today’s board meeting. One: The Governor-appointed state board is bent on discrediting Superintendent Ritz even at the risk of jeopardizing millions in federal education dollars to help children learn. Two: If the board doesn’t get its way, it changes the rules—even to the detriment of good government and public transparency. Hoosiers of both political parties (who constitute much of Superintendent Ritz’ base of support) should take note of the overreach.

Ritz is reportedly having attorneys review the approved resolutions—particularly as they relate to her authority to call board meetings and several new restrictions.

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Reader Comments

  1. Judith

    It seems to me that our republican governor is following the example of our democratic president by making policies and committees that go against what voters want.

    Reply
  2. Sabra Gage

    If you know anyone that lives in Indiana or know someone that has friends in Indiana, share this with them. We need to get the word out that Glenda Ritz and the children of Indiana need their voices!! We, in Indiana, need them to tell Pence, the State Board of Education, and Indiana legislators to stop undermining elected official State Supt. Glenda Ritz!! Support her so that the education of our children is not in jeopardy and because that is what the people of Indiana voted for!!!!

    Reply
  3. John Jackson

    Everyone who pulls the republican lever in the elections especially for governor is a participant in this board of “Education”

    Reply
  4. Barbara Arko Hargrove

    Its amazing how Pence and his buddies can take voters votes and strip their importance of electing a public official by circumventing the law and nothing happens. Tony Bennett who started the destruction of public education in Indiana is given a slap on the wrist and told if he had only changed the law he could use the states computers to run for office. Even doing this he lost and now the winner who won more votes than anyone is being stripped of her power and probably will cost the state of Indiana millions more of education dollars. Unbeleivable!

    Reply
    • Lynn

      As a resident and voter in the State of Indiana, I am disgusted with the actions of this power grabbing governor and his minions. 1.3 million Indiana voters elected Glenda Ritz as State Supt. Simply because she is a democrat, where Bennett was not and he followed the playbook, he is stripping her of any authority. People with any common sense and have been following this closely and know what is going on here better make sure Pence is a one term governor. I don’t know when Indiana is going to get a clue and get our state out of republican dictatorship. Pathetic and sad.

      Reply

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