State Board of Education members, including Superintendent Glenda Ritz, participated (recently) in a strategic planning meeting and an orientation session led by national consultants. Optimism over board progress made with the help of these consultants diminished quickly when Ritz walked directly out of the board’s public orientation to hold a press conference accusing the governor of yet another attempt to usurp her authority.
Her claim is based on an old email from Oct. 3 mined from a closed DOE email account previously belonging to a current member of the governor’s staff. The email consisted of draft recommendations for reorganizing the governance structure of the state board. Such recommendations have been rejected by Gov. Pence, which he had personally conveyed to Ritz the previous week.
The recurrence of unsupported accusations by Ritz must stop. She routinely casts aspersions against her fellow board members. These include allegations of secret meetings, violations of open door law and her most recent claim of an “improper” motion that involved a board resolution I drafted to evaluate Common Core standards that she would later characterize as “illegal.”
Not surprisingly, her accusations are unsupported and fail to pass tests of legal scrutiny. In fact, an attorney general legal advisory opinion requested by the superintendent affirmed the legality and appropriateness of the very resolution she claimed to be improper and illegal.
Perhaps of greater concern than unsupported claims is the absence of leadership as chair of the state board. Completion of tasks such as the evaluation and adoption of standards, state assessment development, issuance of school letter grades and revisions to Indiana’s A-F accountability system have been compromised by the lack of adherence to established meeting procedures and basic meeting rules that govern decorum.
As an elected leader, Ritz has the opportunity and the obligation to cultivate harmonious relationships that contribute to the responsible governance of Indiana’s K-12 education system. Leadership efforts to develop greater collegiality and cooperation would be most welcomed.
Brad Oliver, state board of education, 6th Congressional District