A battle over control of public education in the state could intensify in the next few days. Our partners at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis report the Indiana Attorney General's Office is expected to be asked whether the Indiana Board of Education can take action if the superintendent of public instruction is not present. Glenda Ritz left a meeting yesterday over a proposal to give control of career readiness programs to the newly-created Center for Education and Career Innovation. Ritz says that new agency undermines the Indiana Department of Education. She also believes moving oversight to the CECI violates state law.
Pence is on the record as saying the new agency helps remove barriers for students, workers and employers without diluting the powers of the department of education.
Before the abrupt end of the board of education meeting, members agreed on an outline for changes to the state's A-F school grading system.
Specifics are expected to be developed next year.
November 14, 2013
Statement From Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz
I was elected as Indiana's chief education officer to be an advocate for public education. I have the duty to coordinate education policy, and serve as a check and balance to Governor Pence and the State Board of Education.
The resolution that brought today's meeting to a halt, confirms what I said yesterday in a letter to the editor. Governor Pence, through his newly created education agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI), is undermining the exceptional work done every day by the Department of Education.
As you are all now aware, this is causing unnecessary conflict in education, which does nothing to serve Indiana's children.
Let me be clear. The resolution that brought today's meeting to a halt was written by CECI staff and it improperly inserted State Board of Education staff, working for the Governor's new education agency, to take over the academic standards review process.
Indiana law is clear. The process of evaluating academic standards is the responsibility of the Department of Education. After that review, the academic standards go to the Education Roundtable and finally to the State Board for adoption. The resolution was ruled improper because it used CECI staff in a manner that violates Indiana law.
I have said previously that I will not tolerate violations of the law, be they open door violations or improper motions. The public demands nothing less.
I have requested an advisory opinion from the Attorney General on the improper motion that was brought during today's meeting. I look forward to receiving his opinion and continuing to work with all Hoosiers to strengthen public education for our children.
Thankfully, there were some good things that came from today's meeting. We took an important first step towards overhauling our broken A-F system. I also felt like members of the Board were engaging in substantive debate. Unfortunately, the improper resolution brought all of that to a halt.
I gave the board multiple opportunities to fix their resolution and make it legal. I then suggested that the improper resolution be tabled while we consult with the Attorney General. Unfortunately, certain members of the Board refused any compromise.
The conduct of some members and the Governor's CECI staff made it impossible for us to move forward with our business. Because of this, I was left with no choice but to adjourn the meeting.
Source: Indiana Department of Education
Statement from Indiana State Teachers Association
With an abrupt ending to today's meeting, Indiana educators saw the result of the governor-appointed members of the State Board of Education continuing to undermine the authority of Indiana's duly-elected State Superintendent Glenda Ritz. “A year ago, voters elected Ritz to lead our state's educational programs,” said Teresa Meredith, ISTA President. “Soon after bills were drafted undermining her authority. When those efforts failed, Gov. Mike Pence, ignoring 1.3 million voters and through an executive order the legality of which ISTA continues to question, created at taxpayers' expense a duplicate Department of Education – the Center for Education and Career Innovation.” Through these actions, Pence perpetuates the ugly climate and escalates the gridlock displayed today. “Educators wouldn't tolerate such disrespectful behavior in their classrooms, and citizens shouldn't tolerate it from non-elected State Board members and the governor who appointed them.
Source: Indiana State Teachers Association