The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) met Wednesday, July 9. Sparks started to fly from the ever-present political tensions between Superintendent Glenda Ritz and supporters of Gov. Pence who sit on the Board of Education.
Before the meeting even began, Ritz issued a statement regarding a resolution that was to be heard during Wednesday’s meeting. It called into question some of the steps her office took with the No Child Left Behind Waiver (NCLB) that was submitted to exempt Indiana from parts of the national program.
“The Board has made it clear that they will not listen to me or the department,” said Ritz in the statement. “I have asked that the governor remove this resolution from consideration tomorrow before our schools and students suffer the consequences.”
Board member Dr. Brad Oliver called out Ritz during the meeting on making a preemptive release on the resolution.
The agenda for the eight-hour meeting and copies of the resolutions can be viewed here.
The resolution regarding the NCLB waiver caused a standoff between Ritz and Oliver. Ritz contended there had been transparency about the NCLB waiver from the beginning, and the actions of her office regarding the waiver, should not be in question.
“I don’t think there is anything in the resolution that is different from Indiana statute,” said Brad Oliver during the meeting. “There are things that the board would have like to express but didn’t get to on June 23.”
During a June 23 meeting, Ritz cut short the discussion on the waiver.
An obviously irritated Ritz spoke adamantly about how many of the resolutions were an assault on her office and her judgement. Several resolutions addressed committee redirection, placing several out of Ritz’s reach, such as one that focuses on school turnaround efforts. There was also a resolution to create a new committee that would impose limits on the control Ritz has over the agenda of meetings.
During the meeting, board member Andrea Neal said she "regrets that the political debate is preventing a discussion of the merits of the waiver.”
Jodi Buoscio, Elkhart Democratic candidate for House District 21, shared Neal’s sentiments.
“It’s sad," Buoscio said in a press release after Wednesday’s meeting. “It really is sad. As our children and our schools continue to struggle, our State Board of Education continues to play political games. They would do well to remember and respect the over 1,330,000 voters who elected Glenda as our State Superintendent ... almost all of the meeting was focused on a contentious political game to undermine Superintendent Ritz with little consideration of our students and their education.”
Buoscio told The Elkhart Truth she felt the meeting was “political gamesmanship.”