If you’ve followed education policy in Indiana the last few years, you’ve no doubt come across news about the State Board of Education. The 11 person panel, including state superintendent Glenda Ritz, creates education policy for the state that is recommended to the legislature and the governor.
Board meeting started to become dramatic when Ritz, a democrat, was elected in 2012 and became chair of the board which is comprised of Republican governor Mike Pence and former governor Mitch Daniels’ appointees.
So how did that saga play out in 2014? Here are the highlights:
- The lawsuit Ritz filed against members of the board in 2013 regarding the state’s Open Door Law was settled this year. After a judge dismissed the suit, a group of private citizens filed a similar suit on Ritz’s behalf. A judge approved a settlement of $15,000 for legal fees for the plaintiffs, bringing the issue to rest.
- One of the board’s biggest decisions of this year was approving updated language to REPA III, the state’s alternative teacher licensing requirements. REPA III exists to put teachers with subject specific knowledge in the classroom, rather than students with education degrees. It was a controversial move to approve, with many in the public speaking out against it, saying it would put inexperienced teachers into the schools.
- At the beginning of December, Pence dissolved the Center for Education and Career Innovation, his shadow education agency that caused much of the tension between the board and Ritz. Pence said the move is an effort to help those relations and decrease the fighting so they can focus on education issues.
- Pence announced in early December he wants the General Assembly to vote to remove the state superintendent as chair of the board, and let the board elect its own chair. This is also a move to get rid of disagreements between the board and Ritz, but Ritz supporters say this is not a solution, because Ritz was elected in part to serve as the chair of the board.
Going into 2015, the board has a lot of work to do getting the new version of the ISTEP+ approved for this spring as well as the coming years. We’ll also be keeping an eye on what the General Assembly decides to do about the role of the chair, because if Ritz is removed as chair a different kind of tension could ensue.