Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #154 – September 18, 2013

Dear Friends,

Power grab.

The Governor has created a new bureaucracy to make the State Board independent of State Superintendent Ritz. This has never been done before in the history of the State Board of Education.

Past governors have imposed their will by influencing the votes of their appointees on the State Board. That approach was not sufficient for Gov. Pence. He now has a new bureaucracy to run things that for years have been run by the State Superintendent.

Creating costly new bureaucracies is generally not what conservatives do, but Gov. Pence in the name of partisanship is apparently ready to spend extra taxpayer dollars to duplicate what has been done for years within the Indiana Department of Education.

New Staff for the State Board of Education

About 4:05pm at the end of an unexpectedly long State Board meeting on September 4th, State Board Member David Freitas read a resolution calling for the hiring of three staff members to serve the State Board: an executive director, a technical advisor and a budget specialist. The resolution passed 9-1 with only Glenda Ritz, who commented that she had been given only one day notice of this move, voting nay.

No one cited the cost of this new bureaucracy, but it doesn’t take much to see that it will not come cheap to taxpayers. Salary plus benefits for an executive director is probably in the neighborhood of $80,000 and salary plus benefits for a technical advisor and budget specialist is likely to be around $60,000. That would total $200,000 for staff to do things that current IDOE staff have been doing for years and could easily continue to do. Those are your tax dollars at work funding an overtly partisan move to diminish the control of Superintendent Ritz.

Diminishing the Office of State Superintendent

Over 1.3 million voters in the 2012 election cast their ballot for Glenda Ritz, more than voted for Gov. Pence, and the conclusion has to be that these voters favored the policies of Glenda Ritz over the policies of Tony Bennett. Gov. Pence and the members of the State Board in setting up an independent staff are trying to minimize and undermine the role of Glenda Ritz, an effort which many have likened to stealing the election.

At the September 4th meeting a friend made the first reference I had heard to “the rogue State Board.” Others have called the Governor’s new agency “the new IDOE.” What is not clear is whether this situation represents a strong Governor taking control of education or a weak Governor unwisely submitting to a few extremely vocal members of the State Board who want to take control of education in Indiana away from Glenda Ritz. This clearly could come back to haunt Gov. Pence politically, especially since for the sake of partisanship it negates his stance against extra unnecessary bureaucracy.

The legislative branch had nothing to do with this new bureaucracy. These moves were made without General Assembly debate or new legislation. The State Board of Education as created by the General Assembly years ago was designed to be a non-partisan policy board. The law says that no more than six of the eleven members can be of the same political party. Clearly, the intent of the law creating the State Board was to take politics out of education policy. This Governor and this board have changed that.

Hear Glenda Ritz on September 21st

Glenda Ritz will be the featured speaker at the Indiana Coalition for Public Education fall membership meeting in Indianapolis this Saturday, September 21st at 2:00pm. You can come to hear her comments on this issue and other key issues: voucher implementation, a new A-F system and the settlement with CTB McGraw Hill on ISTEP+ testing and many others. Please join us in this meeting for all ICPE members and prospective members at the Dean Evans Community and Education Center in Washington Township, 86th and Woodfield Crossing Blvd, from 2:00 to 3:30pm.

If you can come on Saturday to show support for Glenda Ritz and ICPE, please RSVP by replying to this message.

Glenda Ritz will speak at a similar ICPE meeting in Lafayette on October 5, 2pm, at the Tippecanoe County Public Library.

Please join us on Saturday to help support public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE is working to promote public education and oppose privatization of schools in the Statehouse. We hope all members and prospective members will come to the membership meetings this fall, the first of which is Saturday, September 21st, 2-3:30pm at the Washington Township Central Office, 86th & Woodfield Crossing. Glenda Ritz is the featured speaker. At the meeting you can renew your membership for the 2013-14 membership year which began July 1st if you have not done so already.

One way to RSVP for the September 21st meeting is simply to reply to this message. Please join us!

To all who have recently renewed or supported our fundraiser in Bloomington, we say thank you! We need additional support to carry on our advocacy for public education. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on our three ICPE membership meetings this fall. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998.


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