Governor Mike Pence was elected last fall with fewer votes
than State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. Ritz,
you may recall, beat Tony Bennett, despite his 10-1 advantage in
money. Bennett was the author of the state’s A-F grading system,
which fell into disrepute when it was revealed by the Associated
Press that Bennett rigged the grades to favor a politically
connected charter school. Bennett was also a staunch advocate for
charters, vouchers, for-profit charters, cyber charters, and
anything else that would privatize and undermine public education
in the Hoosier state.
Since the election Pence has made it clear
that he will stop at nothing to strip away the powers of the state
This is a summary of the latest power grab, as
reported by the Indiana State Teachers Association:
It appears as though there are no bounds to the State
Board of Education and the Governor’s march to power-over and
over-power Indiana’s duly-elected state superintendent of public
instruction, Glenda Ritz.
Today’s lengthy SBE meeting began and ended with twin power grabs
targeted squarely at Ritz.
The first resolution offered by member Dan Elsener called for him to chair a
new committee that is tasked with setting the goals for Indiana’s
education system-something that has always been within the purview
of the State Superintendent’s office-who also happens to be the
lawful chairperson for the State Board of Education. The
publicly-funded “Elsener Committee” will contract out with outside
consultants, spending additional taxpayer dollars along the way to
do the Department of Education’s work. Elsener did not give Glenda
Ritz, as chairperson, the courtesy of prior notice of his
resolution and then called for action on the resolution even though
it was not part of the meeting’s agenda. Ritz suggested Open Door
Law issues with this and then abstained from voting.
After over six hours of handling bona fide agenda items,
the power grab continued with another resolution (again, with no
prior notice to Ritz) indicating that the State Board of Education
was hiring its own executive director, its own general counsel, and
will use the Governor’s new Special Assistant, charter school
advocate Claire Fiddian-Green as its “technical advisor.” Ritz was
the sole opponent to this move.
“Both of these resolutions are thinly-disguised vehicles to wrest authority over
public education policy-making from Indiana’s duly-elected state
superintendent and they not only disregard Glenda Ritz but the 1.3
million voters who supported her,” said ISTA President Teresa
Meredith. “These attempts at discrediting,
diminishing, and disrespecting Glenda Ritz and the agency she leads
are partisan arrogance at the least and voter nullification at the
worst,” added Meredith.