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Indiana State Board of Education
November 26, 2013
Ritz meets with Pence; loses on transparency ruling
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Gov. Mike Pence met this morning. (Scott Elliott) Gov. Mike Pence and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz met for more than an hour this morning to try to resolve their differences over how the Indiana State Board of Education should be run. Ritz, who lost another round in the battle late Monday when the state public access counselor rejected a complaint that the state board had violated state law by holding a secret meeting, said afterward she had not yet seen the ruling. She did, however, announce progress in one area. The state board will add a Dec. 20 meeting to allow the board to approve the final A to F school grades so they can be released before the end of the year, Ritz said.
November 22, 2013
State board struggles to avoid further delay of A to F release
The state board before Ritz ended the meeting early on Nov. 13. Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Indiana State Board of Education will get almost three weeks to cool off in the wake of their last, explosive get together. But a big question remains: Can the squabbling board then put aside battles for control of its agenda and over its own rules in time to approve long-delayed A to F school grades by year's end? Come the first week of December, questions about whether the 10 Republican-appointed board members can effectively conduct business with Ritz, their chair and the only Democrat holding statewide office, will quickly be tested on consecutive days. Lou Ann Baker, the board's spokeswoman, said its representatives have been meeting with Ritz's team and expect two previously scheduled meetings will be held that week — a strategic planning session on Dec. 3 and the regularly scheduled monthly board meeting on Dec. 4. After that, the board has so far not been able to decide whether and when it can meet for a third time in December to approve and publicly release A to F grades, but Baker said that is the goal. A spokesman for Ritz confirmed that is where the talks stand.
November 19, 2013
At legislative kickoff, lawmakers ponder preschool, state board and Common Core
On Organization Day, Indiana legislative leaders annually gather for a mostly ceremonial start to the upcoming legislative session. Will 2014 be another big year for new education laws? That's hard to say. As lawmakers began to pitch ideas today for the 2014 legislative session, opinions diverged on how much could be accomplished on hot education issues like the Common Core, preschool funding and discord on the Indiana State Board of Education. Senate Education Committee chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, doesn't think education will be a big focus this time. "I don't have any priorities for education for session 2014," he said. "I think we passed some pretty significant bills the past three years and I think it's time to take a rest." But across the statehouse, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said improving early childhood education and addressing the “skills gap" that he said leaves high school graduates ill-prepared for work and college, were two of his four top priorities for 2014. He also hinted the legislature could wade into a dispute among state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana State Board of Education over who directs education policymaking. "Our state's constitution clearly gives that task to the elected legislative bodies in this chamber and the senate," Bosma said. The legislature officially began the new session Tuesday with its annual "organization day," a mostly ceremonial event. Lawmakers begin their work in earnest when they next meet in early January.
November 18, 2013
Watch the state board meltdown you missed
I’d suggest anyone who wants a full picture of what led to state Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s walkout on her fellow Indiana State Board…
November 15, 2013
Gov. Mike Pence asks national group to mediate state board dispute
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (Talk Radio News Service) Indiana Gov. Mike Pence sent a distress signal Friday with a call for help from a national group to intervene with the troubled Indiana State Board of Education. Pence notified state Superintendent Glenda Ritz and members of the state board in a letter that he has asked the National Association of State Boards of Education to mediate their disagreements. In the letter, posted online by the Lafayette Journal Courier, Pence wrote that he would offer "any and all resources" to try to resolve the board's problems. "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," Pence wrote. "I have reached out to NASBE and they have agreed to facilitate a discussion with the Indiana State Board of Education to clarify its roles and responsibilities and reach a common understanding regarding the governance procedures." Ritz, however, responded by placing the blame for the discord squarely on Pence's shoulders. The new agency he created, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, is the source of the tension, she said in a statement, not her fellow board members.
November 13, 2013
Board tension explodes as Ritz walks out on meeting (updated)
State board members Cari Whicker (right) Dan Elsner (center) and B.J. Watts (obscured) speak with CECI attorney Michelle McKeown after State Superintendent Glenda Ritz walked out of the meeting. The Indiana State Board of Education descended into chaos Wednesday as Superintendent Glenda Ritz declared the meeting adjourned and walked out over the objections of the rest of the board. Rife with confusion, the remaining nine board members tried to press on until an attorney and a representative from Gov. Mike Pence's office advised them to end the meeting without further action. "We have debates every meeting between the State Board of Education's lawyers and the Department of Education's lawyers," an exasperated Ritz said just before leaving. "I'm taking this to the attorney general." Incredulous, board member Dan Elsener, who serves as secretary, tried to step in and continue the meeting. "This is bad governance, bad leadership and it's inappropriate," Elsener said. Debate throughout the three-hour meeting repeatedly came back to questions of control — who writes the official minutes, who sets the agenda, who gets to speak during discussion and which staff members get to have input into the board's decisions. On Tuesday, Ritz authored a newspaper guest column sharply criticizing Pence's push into education policy making as an "education takeover."
November 12, 2013
Four things to watch for at Wednesday's state board meeting
Last week's state board meeting was long and tense. Can any discussion of the controversial A to F school grading rules in Indiana that involves the feuding state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, State Board of Education and Gov. Mike Pence's Center for Education and Career Innovation get anything accomplished? The tension is not abating. Just today, Ritz complained in an op-ed that Pence was trying to take over her duties. (Pence has already promised a response letter.) On Wednesday, all sides will have to come together if the state board is going to meet its Friday deadline under state law to deliver a new school grading formula for use going forward. After two straight contentious meetings, one lawsuit and one pseudo-legal complaint, the state board will meet for the second time in a week. Here's four things to watch for:
November 8, 2013
Judge dismisses Ritz's lawsuit against the state board
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, left, at Friday's Indiana State Board of Education meeting. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg dismissed state Superintendent Glenda Ritz's lawsuit against the Indiana State Board of Education today, saying she could not initiate a lawsuit without consulting with Attorney General Greg Zoeller. Ritz last month sued the other 10 members of the Indiana State Board of Education objecting to their effort to enlist legislative leaders to help calculate A to F grades for public and most private schools. Board members had complained Ritz was not working fast enough to issue the grades for schools; she said she had to wait for more data. After Friday's state board meeting, Ritz said she had not determined her next move. "This case was filed because I believed the board took illegal action outside of the public arena and that needed to be stopped," she said. "I am disappointed in today's ruling and concerned for all Hoosiers that have their lives affected by unelected boards, particularly those that act, perhaps, in secret." The suit was the apex of a long-running series of disputes between Ritz, the only Democrat in statewide office, and the rest of the board, all of whom are appointed by Republican governors. The suit argued that the board's letter to legislative leaders violated the state’s transparency laws. By jointly signing it, Ritz argued, the board effectively made a decision outside of a public meeting, which her suit contended a violation of state law. But Zoeller quickly moved to have the suit dismissed by arguing Ritz could not use Indiana Department of Education lawyers to file the suit. Zoeller argued that Ritz could only initiate a lawsuit with assistance from his office. Rosenberg agreed. In his decision, he said Ritz's arguments were "not consistent with the underlying purpose" of state law and that Zoeller's arguments were "more plausible."
November 8, 2013
Ritz, state board's lawyers duel over A to F rules
Attorney Kristie Anderson, left, representing State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education, debated with Michelle McKeown, right, an attorney for Gov. Mike Pence's new Center for Education and Career Innovation, before the Indiana State Board of Education Friday. The struggle between State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Gov. Mike Pence for control of Indiana's education policy reached a fever pitch Friday with dueling lawyers arguing over interpretations of Indiana's A to F rules before a sometimes befuddled Indiana State Board Education. Kristie Anderson, representing Ritz and the the Indiana Department of Education, stood side-by-side with Michelle McKeown, an attorney for Pence's new Center for Education and Career Innovation, offering competing interpretations of state law. Board members, meanwhile, sparred over which advice to follow. “It seems as if our debate is about the board’s role and when it should start,” Ritz said The first meeting since tension boiled over last month into a lawsuit by state Superintendent Glenda Ritz against the other 10 members of the board lived up to its billing as another battle royale.
October 31, 2013
Memo: Final 2012-13 A to F grades for all schools won't happen until 2014
State report cards, grading schools on an A to F scale, wouldn't be ready until Nov. 22 under state Superintendent Glenda Ritz's proposed timeline. (Morag Riddell/Flickr) StateImpact Indiana has posted a memo sent from the Indiana Department of Education to superintendents this week which spells out a proposed timeline for release of A to F grades to Indiana schools. The story outlines the key proposed dates:
October 29, 2013
Glenda Ritz says she won't back down from political foes
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks with Chalkbeat's Scott Elliott in a WFYI sponsored event at the central library Tuesday. (WFYI) Indiana state Superintendent Glenda Ritz said in an interview Tuesday she would keep pushing her agenda despite pointed disagreements with the State Board of Education. Ritz said she believed she had significant support for her vision of educational change in Indiana, despite skepticism from her political opponents. Ritz, the only Democrat holding statewide office, also said she was not thinking about running for governor, as some of her supporters had hoped, in the wake of former gubernatorial candidate John Gregg's recent decision not to challenge Gov. Mike Pence in 2016. But she wouldn't rule it out.
October 28, 2013
Elsener: Ritz, board should focus on their jobs
State Board of Education member Dan Elsner Indiana State Board of Education member Dan Elsener said in a radio interview today he was disappointed by the recent squabbles among state board members and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz but he is optimistic the board can still function effectively. "We are a bipartisan board," said Elsner, who has personally clashed with Ritz over such issues as who leads strategic planning for the board and who sets its agenda. "We've never been partisan snipers. The last six months has been a little more difficult." In an interview with Amos Brown on WTLC's Afternoons with Amos program, Elsener criticized Ritz for not yet issuing A to F school grades but expressed hope the board could begin working together more cooperatively. Relations among the board members deteriorated fast over the past two weeks after 10 board members, but not Ritz, asked the legislature to intervene to help issue A to F school grades. Ritz responded by suing the other board members, arguing they broke state law that requires public bodies to make decisions in public when it decided without her to send the letter.
October 25, 2013
State board member Andrea Neal's letter: Drop the suit
Andrea Neal, a one-time Indianapolis Star journalist named by Gov. Mike Pence to the State Board of Education over the summer, publicly released a letter to state Superintendent Glenda Ritz on twitter Friday afternoon calling for Ritz to drop her lawsuit against the other 10 members of the board. Four other board members — Troy Albert, David Freitas, Sarah O’Brien and Tony Walker — also sent a separate letter they jointly signed to Ritz asking for her to drop the suit. You can read it here. (UPDATE: I've also added board member Gordon Herdry's letter below.) In Neal's letter, she argues that Ritz's actions have damaged her ability to work collaboratively with board members and suggests Ritz used data delays as an excuse to delay accountability provisions of state law. Read it after the jump:
October 24, 2013
Ritz, Zoeller state differing takes on legal action
Glenda Ritz reads her statement at a press conference today, as captured and tweeted by Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting. About the same time Democratic state Superintendent Glenda Ritz held a press conference this afternoon to explain her reasons for suing the state board she was hit with a new challenge — Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a motion asking the court to drop her lawsuit, arguing that only Zoeller can take legal action on behalf of a state official. Zoeller said he is willing to help broker a settlement between Ritz and her fellow board members. Short of that it will be up to a judge to decide whether Ritz has grounds to bring her case. Here are Ritz's statement and Zoeller's motion:
October 23, 2013
Glenda Ritz speech to librarians touches on politics
A media specialist tweeted this photo from Glenda Ritz's appearance today at the Indiana Library Federation's conference. In the wake of her bombshell lawsuit Tuesday against the rest of the Indiana State Board of Education, state Superintendent Glenda Ritz spoke today to the Indiana Library Association. Ritz, a National Board certified teacher, was working as a media specialist in Washington Township last year when she defeated her predecessor, Tony Bennett. The media was kept out of the event, according to tweets from television journalists who tried to attend, but attendees tweeted some of her comments. Among her statements that were tweeted were a few references to her battle with Republican state lawmakers over control of education policy making in Indiana. Here's a sample:
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