|State Superintendent of |
Public Instruction Glenda Ritz
The Republican-dominated legislature this year has pursued a solution. On Tuesday, the Indiana Senate passed a bill on a 33-17 party-line vote that would allow the Board to pick its own chair. While the bill would leave Ritz on the board, it would effectively remove her as chair. Under the bill, the current 11 member State Election Board would be reduced to 9, with the Governor appointing four members, the legislature four members and the Superintendent being the 9th member.
It is a change that should have been made a long time ago. I do, however, have a problem with taking power away from an elected official. Like it or not, and many Republican don't, Glenda Ritz was elected by the voters to be Superintendent, including the duty of chairing the State Election Board. Taking duties away from an elected official in the middle of his or her term seems highly inappropriate.
Republicans are making Glenda Ritz into a martyr, a foolish mistake that could be costly. Instead of a 2016 election focusing on her weak leadership, the Republicans have dealt the Democrats an ace. Their treatment of Ritz will become front and center THE election issue. Ritz will quite possibly increase her vote total from 2012 simply by exploiting her treatment as her primary issue.
We Republicans lost the Superintendent race in 2012 because we had a nominee who managed to alienate people who oppose educational reform as well as those who advocate for it. The underreported story is how Tony Bennett's staff had deeply alienated conservatives by pushing Common Core and a flawed A-F grading system that downplayed the importance of improvement as a measuring stick, thus favoring traditional public schools over charter schools.
It didn't have to be this way. Governor Pence is a very personable individual and fully capable of reaching across the aisle to schmooze a political opponent. The Governor should have early on went to Superintendent Ritz and worked on finding issues where they had common ground. Instead from the beginning of 2013 the approach was to pick a fight with Ritz. Ritz will lose the battle in the legislature, that there is no doubt. But she may well be the one having the last laugh come Election Night 2016.