Dissecting a shark might be a delicate, messy, and tedious task—but no less so than the one Ritz faced post-election. After November 6, she not only had to navigate a hostile political landscape as one of the only Democrats elected to statewide office, but do so just as a package of some of the nation’s most sweeping and controversial education reforms (initiatives she campaigned against, but by law must now implement) were beginning to work their way through the state’s 292 school districts.
The piece for the February 2013 issue also quotes Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma as saying the authority of the state superintendent is limited when it comes to policymaking.
All the while, a cacophony of doubters beleaguered Ritz and her abilities before she had even set foot into office. Despite Ritz’s overwhelming number of votes, Governor Mike Pence said he believed Hoosiers wanted to go full speed ahead on [former state superintendent Tony] Bennett’s brand of reform. The State Board of Education rejected Ritz’s input on teacher-licensing policy just weeks after her win. And former Governor Mitch Daniels even went so far as to question the legality of her campaign methods, alleging that union-affiliated teachers sent out campaign-related material on state time. Ritz, though, took it in stride. “I honestly haven’t had anything said about me that I would feel bothered by,” she says.
“It will be incumbent on her to make the case, as the half-dozen or so superintendents that we’ve worked with over the years have,” Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican, told writer Adam Wren.
Speaking of Ritz, StateImpact is moderating a public conversation with the state superintendent herself Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at the Indianapolis Central Library. (It’s part of WFYI’s Conversations About Education series.) Come on out, or submit your questions for Ritz here.