Battle Over Public Education Control Intensifies

According to sources, the battle for control over public education in the state could intensify over the next few days. WTHR-TV in Indianapolis reported that within the next few days the Attorney General’s Office is expected to be asked whether the IDOE can take action if the superintendent of public instruction is not present.

Ritz, who reportedly left a meeting yesterday discussing a proposal to give control of career readiness programs to the newly-created Center for Education and Career Innovation, released a statement claiming the agency undermines the IDOE and violates state law. Pence stated that he believes the new agency assists in removing barriers for students, workers and employers without compromising  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.

In a statement to the public released today, Ritz stated, “…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 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.

Indiana State Teachers Association launched a statement in Ritz’s defense stating that through the abrupt ending of the meeting yesterday, members of the State Board of Education have been able to see the result of “governor-appointed” members of the State Board of Education.

“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, Indiana Department of Education, Inside INdiana Business

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