Pence Calls For Facilitator in Education Battle

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Governor Mike Pence is calling on the Indiana State Board of Education to allow a national organization to facilitate a discussion about disagreements among Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and other board members. A spokesman for Ritz says Pence should speak with the superintendent personally "before involving any outside parties." Ritz left a meeting earlier this week over a proposal to give control of career readiness programs to the newly-created Center for Education and Career Innovation. She says that new agency undermines the Indiana Department of Education and believes the move violates state law.

Pence believes the agency would lift barriers for students, employers and workers without taking power from the department of education.

November 15, 2013

Letter from Governor Mike Pence to members of the Indiana State Board of Education

November 15, 2013

SUPERINTENDENT RITZ: VIA HAND DELIVERY AND ELECTRONIC MAIL

MEMBERS OF THE BOARD: VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL

Glenda Ritz, Chair

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Tony Walker

First Congressional District Representative

David Freitas

Second Congressional District Representative

Cari Whicker

Third Congressional District Representative

Sarah O'Brien

Fourth Congressional District Representative

Andrea Neal

Fifth Congressional District Representative

Brad Oliver

Sixth Congressional District Representative

Daniel Elsener

Seventh Congressional District Representative

B.J. Watts

Eighth Congressional District Representative

Troy Albert

Ninth Congressional District Representative

Gordon Hendry

At-Large Representative

Dear Superintendent Ritz and Members of the State Board of Education:

Let me begin by thanking all of you for your commitment to serving the children of our state through your service on the State Board of Education. Hoosiers are fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated group working on their behalf.

I commend you for the progress you've made this year. Most recently I am grateful for your work in committing to a timetable for completion of the 2012-2013 A-F grades, in reaching consensus on the next steps to revise our A-F model, and in passing emergency rules to enable Choice Scholarship schools to serve students who qualify for special education.

Despite this strong progress, I am aware that the Board has had difficulties in working together, and I am writing to offer my Administration's assistance in finding a solution.

As you are aware, Indiana is a member of the nonprofit National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and assure continued citizen support for public education. The organization has a national perspective on the work of state boards of education, has expertise in best practices and has provided consulting regarding governance of state boards across the nation.

I am writing to inform you that I have reached out to NASBE, and they have agreed to facilitate a discussion within the Indiana State Board of Education to clarify its roles and responsibilities and reach a common understanding regarding the governance procedures. Our Administration is prepared to provide any and all resources and assistance needed to coordinate this process, and I hope the Board will consider this sincere offer to engage NASBE in resolving these present difficulties.

I know you share my belief that it is of the utmost importance to Indiana's schoolchildren that the differences that have emerged between the Superintendent and the other members of the Board be resolved in a civil and respectful way to restore a spirit of cooperation and trust. The Board has an opportunity to do so in engaging NASBE, which has extensive national experience with state boards of education, governance matters and education issues.

Hoosiers are indebted to each of you for your work on the State Board of Education. On behalf of every student, parent, teacher, and administrator in Indiana, I offer my heartfelt appreciation for the hours that you give to this effort. I am confident that, with this assistance, you will be able to resolve your differences quickly and build on the progress that Indiana has made in educational achievement.

Because of your work test scores are up, graduation rates are up, and the future of education and our young people has never been brighter.

I look forward to your reply regarding this proposal to engage the National Association of State Boards of Education to assist the Indiana State Board of Education in moving forward for the good of all Hoosiers and stand ready to offer any and all assistance in making this happen in a timely manner.

Sincerely

Michael R. Pence

Governor of Indiana

Source: Office of Indiana Governor Mike Pence

November 15, 2013

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. -- In response to today’s letter sent by Governor Pence to members of the State Board of Education, Daniel Altman, press secretary for the Indiana Department of Education issued the following statement:

Superintendent Ritz has previously requested that the Board meet for orientation where some of these issues could have been addressed. She has said repeatedly that the source of this conflict is not with individual board members, but with the Governor’s newly created education agency.

If Governor Pence is serious about resolving this issue, he needs to engage with Superintendent Ritz directly rather than through the media. For the Governor to claim that this can be resolved without his direct involvement shows that he simply has not been listening.

The Governor and Superintendent Ritz need to speak about this matter before involving any outside parties. Superintendent Ritz looks forward to working with the Governor to resolve this current issue."

Source: Office of Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz