State Supt. Glenda Ritz takes questions from reporters after the July 19 State Board of Education meeting.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says emails from Governor Pence’s new education agency reveal an attempt to oust her as chairwoman of the State Board of Education. But Pence administration officials say that attempt is going nowhere.
The policy document floats the possibility of removing Ritz as head of the State Board. But the document also warns such a move “may have substantial political fallout,” and clarifying the chair’s role might serve the same end.
Ritz says she is committed to maintaining her role on the Board and preserving her authority to, in her words, “protect the voice of the voters” in the face of a plan to “take away authority statutorily given to the Department of Education.”
State superintendent Glenda Ritz, right, talks to State Board of Education member B.J. Watts during a strategic planning session on Dec. 3.
State superintendent Glenda Ritz says she thinks Indiana education officials can wrap up their review of the Common Core in time to have academic standards in place for next school year.
“Keep in mind we’re working from the standards we are currently teaching,” Ritz says. “So there will be revisions to those standards. The plan is for— the timeline is hopefully the State Board of Education will have final approval in April, and we’ll get out any revisions to the staff here in the spring.”
But some State Board members aren’t sure if that’s enough time to do their job property.
Right now most Indiana teachers are teaching the nationally-crafted Common Core standards the state adopted back in 2010. They’re also teaching what Ritz calls “Indiana academic indicators” — expectations for what students need to know and learn at each grade level to pass the statewide ISTEP+ test.
It’s an interesting question, considering the week began with State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Center for Education and Career Innovation hashing it out over the details of the group’s regular December business meeting. CECI spokesman Lou Ann Baker told StateImpact in an email the two sides had been unable to reach an agreement on the agenda in time to post it 48 hours before the meeting.
So Wednesday’s meeting will be what Ritz is calling an “orientation session” with representatives from the National Association of State Boards of Education on hand to mediate ongoing tensions between the Department of Education and Governor Mike Pence’s new education agency. It will still be open to the public, but board members won’t be able to take any action.
Advocates for closing Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary, left, sit on one side of the North Central High School gym during a Northeast School Corporation meeting on November 25. On the other side sit members of the Save Union High School group.
Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary will close at year’s end, writes Sue Loughlin:
The board met on Monday at North Central, with an estimated 500 people attending. The school district again had heightened security because of the emotion and volatility related to the controversial school closings.
Even before the board was finished with its series of motions, Union/Dugger supporters started leaving the meeting en masse, with some hurling angry comments at the board and those supporting reorganization… Continue Reading →
The same assessments also predicted the increases seen at the elementary level, according to superintendent Greg Parsley.
“Our Acuity test, which is a predictor test published by McGraw-Hill, gave indicators that we were going to have good things to talk about with the elementary schools,” he said. “And the same thing was there with the middle school. We didn’t expect to see the same kind of jumps, but we were expecting to see a slight increase, at least a following along of the trends of other state schools.” Continue Reading →
Earlier this month Ritz walked out of a meeting when board members asked to involve their staff — separate from the Department of Education — in the review of state academic standards. At the time, Ritz said the blame rested not with individual board members but with Governor Mike Pence, who created a new education agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, over the summer.
Ritz and Pence met Tuesday and agreed to bring in the National Association of State Boards of Education to help defuse the situation.
“Since the last meeting of the State Board of Education, I have said that the governor and I needed to work together directly to address recent issues that have arisen,” Ritz said in the statement. “Yesterday’s meeting was a first step towards that goal. I believe the governor now has a clearer understanding of my concerns regarding the CECI, but much work remains to be done.” Continue Reading →
Until fall 2012, Rural Community Academy was the only rural charter school in Indiana. That changed when Canaan Community Academy opened in southern Indiana, using the Graysville model.
[Graysville school leader Susie] Pierce said the Canaan residents found themselves in the same place that the Graysville community was in more than a decade ago — a similar place to where the community of Dugger is now experiencing, with school closure pending.
“We asked what they were going to do to this building,” Pierce said of the Graysville closing, “and they said, ‘turn off the utilities, put plywood on the windows and abandon the building.’ That’s what Canaan was facing, too.” Continue Reading →
“Even through email, a perceived proactive ratification of an action concerning public interest is leaning against the public policy intentions of openness and transparency, but it cannot definitively be considered a violation of the Open Door Law as the legislature intended,” Public Access Counselor Luke Britt wrote in his advisory opinion.
Tensions between the State Board and State Superintendent Glenda Ritz had been escalating for months when the 10 appointed members asked state lawmakers to intervene in the issuing of A-F letter grades for schools, accusing the Department of Education of dragging its feet.
Left: Advocates for closing Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary sat on one side of the gym wearing North Central High School colors. Right: Proponents of keeping the two schools open sat on the other set of bleachers.
And in the middle of the North Central High School gym stood Indiana State Troopers tasked with keeping the peace among the more than 700 attendees.
This much is clear: The district will have to act soon, or risk running out of money. But the two groups that presented Monday night have a very different vision for what should happen next.
Chriss Jobe, speaking on behalf of the Save Union High School group that formed earlier this month, says the possibility of closing the two Dugger schools blindsided community.
“To think that Farmersburg, Shelburn, Hymera and Dugger communities could have woken up less than two weeks ago and heard on their news that their school — that is most likely the heart and lifeblood of their community — was in store for some major changes, without prior public disclosure, is somewhat astonishing,” Jobe told the Board of Trustees. Continue Reading →
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