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State Superintendent Glenda Ritz: Longtime Educator, First-Time Politician

Background

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz

In what she called a “referendum” on the last four years of Indiana’s overhaul, Democrat Glenda Ritz captured 52 percent of the vote to make Republican Tony Bennett a one-term state superintendent.

Ritz says Bennett took Indiana “in the wrong direction” when it came to quality classroom instruction, an argument that resonated with educators dissatisfied with high stakes testing and teacher evaluations. But her election mandate hasn’t translated into an easy first year in office.

Ritz has clashed repeatedly with Republican Gov. Mike Pence and the 10 appointed members of the State Board of Education. In August, Pence announced the creation of a new education agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, to align the state’s workforce development efforts. Ritz says she was left out of the loop.

Then, in October, the rest of the State Board sent a letter to Republican legislative leaders asking for help calculating A-F letter grades, accusing the Department of Education of dragging its feet. Ritz sued the other Board members, accusing them of violating Indiana’s Open Door Law. That suit was dismissed on procedural grounds. Ritz says blame for the ongoing dispute lies with CECI, the new home for State Board staff.

Ritz is in the difficult position of having to implement the policies of her predecessor, with which she mostly disagrees. She’d like to dismantle the current A-F grading system, which she says has a detrimental effect on communities whose schools have been labeled as “failing.” Ritz is also against the expansion of school vouchers.

But she’s acknowledged getting her policies enacted without Democrats in the statehouse will be an uphill battle. Republican legislative leaders say if the situation between the superintendent and the State Board doesn’t improve, they’ll consider stripping Ritz of her power to chair the Board.

Ritz has the backing of the Indiana State Teachers Association, which mobilized local teachers unions to support her in the 2012 election.

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UPDATED, 5:30 p.m. Eastern — Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz was not authorized to file a lawsuit against members of the State Board of Education, a Marion County judge ruled Friday afternoon. In throwing the lawsuit out of court, Judge Louis Rosenberg sided with the Indiana Attorney General’s office, whose lawyers contended only they could […]

DOE Memo: Indiana Schools Will Have A-F Grades By November 22

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Indiana schools will have their state-issued A-F performance ratings by Nov. 22, according to a proposed timeline the state’s Department of Education sent to district superintendents this week. Nov. 22 is also the suggested date of an as-yet-unscheduled meeting of the State Board of Education, during which the panel could approve “final letter grades for […]

Attorney General Asks Court Not To Hear Ritz’s Lawsuit Against The State Board

Attorney General Greg Zoeller (left) and State Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon, speak at a Thursday news conference unveiling a proposed state grant program designed to put more police officers into Indiana schools.

UPDATED, 3:30 p.m. Eastern — Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller moved Thursday to block a lawsuit state superintendent Glenda Ritz has filed against members of the State Board of Education from ever making it to court. Speaking with reporters later Thursday afternoon, Ritz gave no indication she would back down from the suit, but said she […]

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