State Superintendent Glenda Ritz at Monday's A to F Accountability Panel meeting at the Statehouse. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz this afternoon released the final report and recommendations of an accountability panel appointed by Gov. Mike Pence, legislative leaders and herself. Ritz co-chaired the panel. Read our report here on their recommendations, which were approved Monday. The panel's report and recommendations can be found here. To read Ritz's statement and summary of tie panel's report, follow the jump:
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks with Chalkbeat's Scott Elliott in a WFYI sponsored event at the central library Tuesday. (WFYI) Indiana state Superintendent Glenda Ritz said in an interview Tuesday she would keep pushing her agenda despite pointed disagreements with the State Board of Education. Ritz said she believed she had significant support for her vision of educational change in Indiana, despite skepticism from her political opponents. Ritz, the only Democrat holding statewide office, also said she was not thinking about running for governor, as some of her supporters had hoped, in the wake of former gubernatorial candidate John Gregg's recent decision not to challenge Gov. Mike Pence in 2016. But she wouldn't rule it out.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz (center) and committee member Steve Baker (foreground) shared ideas at Monday's A to F accountability panel. State testing would be expanded with new exams in grades 1, 2, 9 and 11 in Indiana under a new school accountability proposal. Other proposed changes include a new method for measuring student test score gains, and giving extra credit to schools when student scores go up, and changing the grading scale for schools from 1 to 4 to 1 through 100. The recommendations come from a 17-member committee appointed by State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, Gov. Mike Pence and legislative leaders. The group's plan will be considered by the Indiana State Board of Education, which could accept, reject or revise it, next week. Then education department staff will do statistical analysis to verify the model works as anticipated. "This is the first phase of what we need to accomplish," Ritz said.
State Board of Education member Dan Elsner Indiana State Board of Education member Dan Elsener said in a radio interview today he was disappointed by the recent squabbles among state board members and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz but he is optimistic the board can still function effectively. "We are a bipartisan board," said Elsner, who has personally clashed with Ritz over such issues as who leads strategic planning for the board and who sets its agenda. "We've never been partisan snipers. The last six months has been a little more difficult." In an interview with Amos Brown on WTLC's Afternoons with Amos program, Elsener criticized Ritz for not yet issuing A to F school grades but expressed hope the board could begin working together more cooperatively. Relations among the board members deteriorated fast over the past two weeks after 10 board members, but not Ritz, asked the legislature to intervene to help issue A to F school grades. Ritz responded by suing the other board members, arguing they broke state law that requires public bodies to make decisions in public when it decided without her to send the letter.
More weigh in on the Ritz vs. state board lawsuit: Editorial: Ritz election was an anomaly; legislature should step in. (Paladium-Item) Editorial: Ritz feud with state board is a disservice to students. (Indy Star) Lesley Weidenbener: Ritz suit raises serious questions about Indiana's Open Door Law (The Statehouse File, ILB) Readers sound off on Ritz vs. the State Board of Education. (Journal Courier) Dave Bangert: The window of trust is closed for the state board and Glenda Ritz. (Journal Courier) Republicans continue to take aim at Ritz. (NWI)
Andrea Neal, a one-time Indianapolis Star journalist named by Gov. Mike Pence to the State Board of Education over the summer, publicly released a letter to state Superintendent Glenda Ritz on twitter Friday afternoon calling for Ritz to drop her lawsuit against the other 10 members of the board. Four other board members — Troy Albert, David Freitas, Sarah O’Brien and Tony Walker — also sent a separate letter they jointly signed to Ritz asking for her to drop the suit. You can read it here. (UPDATE: I've also added board member Gordon Herdry's letter below.) In Neal's letter, she argues that Ritz's actions have damaged her ability to work collaboratively with board members and suggests Ritz used data delays as an excuse to delay accountability provisions of state law. Read it after the jump:
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz Republican leaders at the statehouse were wary of state Superintendent Glenda Ritz from the moment she defeated Tony Bennett last November to become the only Democrat holding statewide office, and the simmering tension has exploded over the last month. But it wasn't that long ago Ritz was winning accolades for charming some Republican legislative leaders and pledging to work cooperatively on issues where they had common interests. Ritz's ability to get anything done from her own agenda depends on her ability to make common cause with Republicans, who control all other education policy-making bodies — both houses of the legislature, the governor's office and a majority on the Indiana State Board of Education. So the recent fallout makes her job tougher and raises questions about whether she can accomplish any of her policy goals. Over the course of nine months in office, her political scorecard looks better than might be expected. Still, early wins have turned to something of a losing streak of late. The latest battle could be a make-or-break moment for Ritz's term in office, as it comes down to the question of who sets the policy agenda for the education department, going forward. Here's a look back:
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Attorney General Greg Zoeller tangled over Ritz's lawsuit against the Indiana State Board of Education Thursday: Ritz, Zoeller have different takes on legal action. (Chalkbeat) Attorney General Greg Zoeller files motion to dismiss Ritz's suit. (Indy Star) Retired IDOE data chief: A to F moving as fast as it could. (Journal Gazette) Zoeller acts to halt Ritz lawsuit. (Indy Star/The Statehouse File) Ritz: Board took action in secret. (WTHR) Ritz vows to continue suit. (WISH-TV) Suit "unauthorized," Zoeller says. (RTV6) Indiana AG wants Ritz lawsuit tossed. (NWI) Legal expert unsure state board broke "letter of the law." (State Impact) Amos Brown: Ritz and state board in open warfare. (Indianapolis Recorder) Steve Hinnefeld: Pence, state board fine with doing business in secret. (School Matters) Ritz controversy came up at Mozel Sanders dinner (WTLC)
Glenda Ritz reads her statement at a press conference today, as captured and tweeted by Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting. About the same time Democratic state Superintendent Glenda Ritz held a press conference this afternoon to explain her reasons for suing the state board she was hit with a new challenge — Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a motion asking the court to drop her lawsuit, arguing that only Zoeller can take legal action on behalf of a state official. Zoeller said he is willing to help broker a settlement between Ritz and her fellow board members. Short of that it will be up to a judge to decide whether Ritz has grounds to bring her case. Here are Ritz's statement and Zoeller's motion: