Rise & Shine: New fronts open up in Pence vs. Ritz war

What was supposed to be a day of healing for the Indiana State Board of Education Wednesday instead saw a couple of new fronts open up in the war between state Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Gov. Mike Pence’s appointees:

  • Meeting designed to heal the state board instead leads to new Ritz vs. Pence turmoil. (Chalkbeat)
  • Ritz: CECI is coming for my job. (Journal Gazette)
  • Document: How to solve the “problem” of Ritz as chairwoman. (Indy Star)
  • Pence spokeswoman: proposal was immediately rejected (Courier Press)
  • Knives came out early in state board’s mediation session. (NWI)
  • Ritz says keeping her as chairwoman “protects voters.” (StateImpact)
  • Document says powers of the state board chair are not in statute so they could be easily changed. (AP)
  • Initial optimism from mediation session tempered as new tensions arise afterward. (WIBC)
  • New strategies by the state board had Ritz on the defensive during the meeting. (WTHR)

Glenda Ritz’s failed public access complaints against the state board will be heard again thanks to a new lawsuit:

  • Four citizens revive Ritz’s complaint against the board with public access lawsuit. (StateImpact)
  • Lawsuit: State board can’t be allowed to do business by email. (The Statehouse File)
  • A Democratic labor lawyer filed the suit against the state board. (AP)
  • Fort Wayne school board member among those who made the complaint. (Journal Gazette)

In other education news:

  • John Krull: GOP should get rid of education agency jumble. (The Statehouse File)
  • What will happen if Indiana exits Common Core standards? (StateImpact)
  • Pence will outline his 2014 legislative agenda in a speech today. (AP)
  • Here’s how Chalkbeat’s engagement director will serve Indiana. (Chalkbeat)
  • Center Grove board president defended a big raise for its superintendent. (Indy Star)
  • Portage schools may import new students from China through a partnership. (NWI)
  • Former South Bend area teacher and administrator dies. (SB Tribune)

on the run

‘Sex and the City’ star and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon launches bid for N.Y. governor

Cynthia Nixon on Monday announced her long-anticipated run for New York governor.

Actress and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon announced Monday that she’s running for governor of New York, ending months of speculation and launching a campaign that will likely spotlight education.

Nixon, who starred as Miranda in the TV series “Sex and the City,” will face New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary.

Nixon has been active in New York education circles for more than a decade. She served as a  longtime spokeswoman for the Alliance for Quality Education, a union-backed advocacy organization. Though Nixon will step down from that role, according to a campaign spokeswoman, education promises to be a centerpiece of her campaign.

In a campaign kickoff video posted to Twitter, Nixon calls herself “a proud public school graduate, and a prouder public school parent.” Nixon has three children.

“I was given chances I just don’t see for most of New York’s kids today,” she says.

Nixon’s advocacy began when her oldest child started school, which was around the same time the recession wreaked havoc on education budgets. She has slammed Gov. Cuomo for his spending on education during his two terms in office, and she has campaigned for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In 2008, she stepped into an emotional fight on the Upper West Side over a plan to deal with overcrowding and segregation that would have impacted her daughter’s school. In a video of brief remarks during a public meeting where the plan was discussed, Nixon is shouted down as she claims the proposal would lead to a “de facto segregated” school building.

Nixon faces steep competition in her first run for office. She is up against an incumbent governor who has amassed a $30 million war chest, according to the New York Times. If elected, she would be the first woman and the first openly gay governor in the state.

parting ways

No fireworks in Houston as school board bids farewell to Carranza

PHOTO: Houston Independent School District
Houston school board members and elected officials discussed the departure of their superintendent Richard Carranza, who will be New York City's next schools chief.

Houston’s school board didn’t put up a fight Tuesday while ironing out the details of superintendent Richard Carranza’s departure to become New York City schools chancellor.

The Houston Independent School District board will have to negotiate the terms of Carranza’s leave since his contract runs through August 2019. But the board’s response to his move lacked the theatrics of last week’s Miami-Dade County school board emergency meeting to discuss the city’s first pick for chancellor, Alberto Carvalho.

That emergency meeting stretched on for hours with tearful pleas from students and board members who begged Carvalho to stay. In the end, Carvalho rejected the New York City job on live television.

At a press conference, Houston leaders put up no such fight for Carranza, who has only been in office there less than two years. Board trustee Sergio Lira said he expects the negotiations to end Carranza’s contract will go smoothly.

“We’re going to release him from his contract with the least harm,” Lira told Chalkbeat.  “We want to wish him the best and don’t want to impede his departure.”

On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Carranza would replace retiring Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who is expected to step down at the end of March. The mayor’s pick came as a surprise in both New York City and Houston, as Carranza’s name had not surfaced publicly during the months-long search for a successor.

At Tuesday’s press conference, the president of Houston’s board of trustees, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, said Carranza had given his two weeks notice — “give or take.” He is expected to continue working during that time, rather than take leave.

Houston appears stoic, even though Carrzanza’s abrupt departures adds to an already long list of challenges. The school system faces a $115 million budget gap, the threat of state takeover and ongoing recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

“We are aware of our challenges and we each have our own responsibility in solving our challenges,” Skillern-Jones said at the press conference.

Peppered with questions about how Carranza’s departure could add to the list of difficulties, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner interjected:

“Enough on Carranza. I wish him well,” Turner said. “But now the focus is on the 215,000 kids who are still here, depending on the rest of us to come together.”

Monica Disare contribute reporting.