Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

The Education Stories To Watch In 2014

    State superintendent Glenda Ritz chairs a meeting of the State Board of Education.

    Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

    State superintendent Glenda Ritz chairs a meeting of the State Board of Education.

    Tensions between Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the rest of the State Board of Education escalated in the latter half of 2013 after Gov. Mike Pence announced the creation of a new agency to coordinate workforce development efforts in the state.

    Squabbles between Ritz and the new Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI) were front and center at State Board meetings. In October, the 10 appointed members sent a letter to legislative leaders accusing the Department of Education of delaying the release of A-F grades, triggering a lawsuit. The next month, Ritz walked out of a public meeting without adjourning it. And she called the creation of CECI a power grab.

    Democrats and Ritz allies predict a move to strip Ritz of her authority as chairwoman of the State Board in the coming year. But as we gaze into the StateImpact crystal ball, we’re not so sure.

    As 2013 comes to a close, we’ve made a few predictions about where some major education issues are headed in 2014 and added a list of stories we’ll be covering in the coming year.

    Our Predictions

    • State Board of Education — We think Glenda Ritz can keep her official role as chairwoman barring major political shifts in the coming months, despite her supporters’ worst fears. Disagreements on the panel may flare again, leaving Ritz on the losing end of some board votes. But the two sides cordially agreed to new operating procedures Dec. 20 that give Pence’s appointees more leverage to add items to the agenda, one of CECI’s chief complaints with the superintendent. There are still some details to work out, such as who chairs the board in Ritz’s absence. With legislative leaders threatening to intervene if members can’t come to a consensus, there’s an incentive for both sides to work together.
    • Common Core — Indiana is halfway through a year-long “pause” as state education officials review the academic standards adopted in 2010. A legislative panel took more than 20 hours of testimony this summer, but in the end only Republicans felt the state should leave the Common Core initiative. So now the question goes to the State Board, which includes a majority of members who voted in favor of the academic standards three and a half years ago. We predict they’ll vote to add additional expectations to the Common Core (states can add up to 15 percent more standards) in an effort to keep the initiative in Indiana. But that compromise is unlikely to sit well with Republican lawmakers who want fully independent standards. We again expect anti-Common Core legislation forcing Indiana’s withdrawal to be introduced — and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, says he won’t rule it out.
    • Early Childhood Education — Pence and other legislative leaders say finding state money to pay for pre-K is a priority in 2014. The governor’s express support makes a difference, to be sure. But this isn’t the first time there’s been broad support for preschool at the beginning of the session and last year state lawmakers balked at spending $7 million on a small-scale pilot program (our math puts the cost of a pre-K voucher program for low-income students between $50 and $100 million). Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, says conversations about how to pay for preschool are really just beginning. It took the state a decade to allot money for all-day kindergarten. So we predict some good conversations about pre-K, but we’re skeptical Indiana is ready to fund Pence’s voucher proposal.

    Stories To Watch


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