Despite constant clashes with Gov. Mike Pence over the last two years, State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says her decision to run for governor isn’t personal; it’s because of significant differences with Pence over how to move Indiana forward.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz announced her gubernatorial campaign at an event at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)
Ritz Thursday officially became the third person to enter the Democratic primary, calling herself the “best candidate” to beat the governor.
She says she made the decision to challenge Pence after this past legislative session, pointing to efforts to strip power from the Department of Education and shift it to the GOP-controlled State Board of Education. She also cited what she calls the “disaster” created by Republican leadership over the religious freedom restoration act.
“We must respect the personal and civil rights of all of Indiana’s citizens and bring forward legislation that respects the rights of all Hoosiers,” Ritz said.
“As my campaign unfolds, you’ll see a great many topics…policy pieces written,” Ritz says. “I plan to talk to Hoosiers all over the state of Indiana to gather input.”
In a statement, state Republican Party Chair Jeff Cardwell roundly criticized Ritz, saying she “doesn’t have a successful track record of leading those in her own department, let alone managing contracts or implementing effective policies.”
A national survey of college students and hiring managers shows 80 percent of employers want new hires to have completed an internship – but only eight percent of students say they’ve invested time in those opportunities.
In the new campaign – dubbed Career Ready Indiana – the Commission will act as a link between businesses, schools and students looking to establish or boost internship and so-called “work-and-learn experiences.” Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers says ensuring more high school and college students get time in the workplace can help stem a growing problem.
“We know – and recent surveys show – that about 50 percent of college graduates would actually have a different degree if they were going back to college now,” Lubbers says.
Nick Hoagland is the Chief Operating Officer of the Indianapolis logistics firm Backhaul Direct. His company has spent the last three years investing in an internship program and he says it helps the business as much as the student.
“We not only get to view their skills in action but we also get to immerse them in our culture, which is key to fitting the person with the business,” Hoagland says.
Lubbers says the state also helps financial aid students by giving companies money to provide paid internships.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. (Photo Credit: Brandon Smith/IPBS)
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, says he hasn’t decided whether to back that plan.
“Still a little curious as to the elimination of the representation from congressional districts, the geographic dispersal, and whether it should just be the governor’s appointments or the legislature should be involved as well,” Bosma says.
Senate Republican leader David Long, R-Fort Wayne, says he thinks his chamber’s plan is more balanced than the House bill.
“It shows that we really are looking at the functioning of the board itself and how can we get maybe a better operating board without pointing fingers at any one person and saying, ‘If we make this one change, that changes everything,’” Long says.
The House bill would keep current state board members in place, while the Senate version would require members be reappointed, should they wish to continue serving.
State Board of Education member Brad Oliver and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen during a January 2014 meeting. photo credit: Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana
House Republicans Thursday blocked Democratic lawmakers’ attempts to ensure State Superintendent Glenda Ritz can’t lose her position as chair of the State Board of Education.
The proposed bill would allow the gubernatorially-appointed members of the State Board to elect their chair, a position that’s been automatically held by the state Superintendent for more than a century.
One amendment offered by House Democrats would have kept Ritz as automatic chair; another would have allowed the public to elect all members of the board, and a third amendment would have made local school boards part of the process of appointing State Board members. House Republicans rejected all three.
Floor debate became a little heated…so much so that House Speaker Brian Bosma had to rein in Minority Leader Scott Pelath. Continue Reading →
Governor Pence unveiled his budget recommendations for this session, with education as the main priority. “I can’t tell you how excited I am about what I sense is a real common purpose that has developed in the months leading up to this session,” Pence says. (Photo Credit: House GOP)
But, Statehouse Democrats say the governor’s budget proposal doesn’t tell a true story when it comes to increasing education funding.
Pence wants to increase K-12 funding by two percent in 2016 and one percent in 2017, which adds up to a $200 million increase over the two years. Pence’s plan would fund charter schools more than in the past, allocating an additional $1,500 per pupil for students in charter schools. Right now, each Indiana district receives a minimum of $4,280 per pupil, regardless of school type.
“In the category of funding, the first priority of this budget will be expanding opportunities for our youth in Indiana, from pre-k education to higher education,” Pence said Tuesday.
A case over whether or not families should pay busing fees in Franklin Township has made its way to the state Supreme Court.
The Franklin Township school system eliminated its busing service three years ago, saying property tax caps had squeezed the school corporation’s finances. The system hired a private firm to run its buses and the firm required parents to pay a fee.
Attorney Ian Thompson, representing the parent, says the Indiana Constitution mandates that the state must provide a uniform school system available for all, and that depriving children of a way to get to school violates that mandate.
“Transportation has become and has evolved into a fundamental part of a free and public education,” Thompson says.
But attorney Sam Laurin, arguing on behalf of the school corporation, says the legislature gets to decide what public school systems must include.
“In this case, the legislature – through clear statutory language at the time that this dispute arose – made it clear that school corporations may, but are not required to bus all students,” Laurin says.
The Supreme Court justices did not announce a timetable for their ruling.
Representatives of the five counties in Indiana’s preschool pilot program met in person with state officials for the first time Wednesday as they prepare to begin implementation.
Brandon Smith / IPBS
Gov. Mike Pence met with officials Wednesday from each of the five counties selected for the state's pre-k pilot program.
In July, the state chose Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion, and Vanderburgh counties to implement a state-funded pre-k pilot. There are more than 15,000 children in the five counties eligible for the program, and more than 10,000 of those are considered unserved, meaning they’re not receiving federally funded early childhood education.
Governor Mike Pence says four of the five counties are prepared to begin at least partial implementation January 1st, while Jackson County – the only rural county chosen for the pilot – will need more time.
Pence says there’s a great deal of urgency to help these children, for their sake as well as the sake of the state.
“I want to get this program moving so that we can begin to learn from these programs, learn what will be the most effective way to go forward,” Pence says. “Indiana’s going to be studying these programs, studying the impact these programs are having on our kids, on their educational outcomes and then we’ll be making policy decisions about any additional programs in the future on that basis.”
The pilot program will provide anywhere between $2,500 and $6,800 per child so low-income Hoosier kids in five counties can attend a high quality preschool program. Pence signed the bill Thursday at DayStar Childcare Ministries in Indianapolis, which is run by Englewood Christian Church.
“In a neighborhood like this one that has some economic challenges, it means that children won’t be sitting in front of the television set; they won’t be playing unattended out in yards,” says pastor Mike Bowling. “They’re going to be with other children and they’re going to be learning and they’re going to ready for kindergarten when the time comes.”
Pence says his administration is already working to get the program up and running as soon as possible. Continue Reading →
The approved legislation uses existing Family and Social Services Administration money and private contributions to fund a pilot program in five counties that could provide up to 4,500 low-income children with money to attend a high quality preschool.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says that’s a fine first step, but it needs to be kept in perspective.
“That is planting a sapling when the state of Indiana needs an entirely new landscape,” says Pelath. “And while it’s a positive thing, it’s not something that we can say is going to transform Indiana’s children yet.” Continue Reading →
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