Ritz vs Pence


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Why Glenda Ritz and Mike Pence are at war

Since Republican Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic state Superintendent Glenda Ritz were elected just over a year ago, they've been at odds over how Indiana's education system should be run. But this fall, what was a sometimes awkward but generally polite disagreement has turned to open warfare. The question is: Why? State Superintendent Glenda Ritz The answer comes down to three fundamental divides that have thrown Pence and Ritz's relationship into conflict: their very different beliefs about education, polarizing reactions to unexpected events, and irreconcilably opposite understandings of why voters elected Ritz in 2012. The tensions have left education leaders, teachers and students across the state uncertain about what direction Indiana will head on critical issues like how schools are graded and how children will be taught. At their core, Ritz and Pence disagree about education Ritz is the only Democrat holding statewide office in strongly conservative Indiana, and her campaign platform directly opposed some of the favorite education ideas of Pence as well as Republicans who have set the agenda for years in the legislature and on the Indiana State Board Education. Before running for office, Ritz was working as an elementary school librarian in Indianapolis' Washington Township schools. She was president of her school district's teachers union and had been a leader in 2011 of Indiana State Teachers Association's opposition to private school vouchers. Policies that Pence sees as justified accountability, Ritz has often viewed as unfairly punitive toward students and teachers.

At legislative kickoff, lawmakers ponder preschool, state board and Common Core

On Organization Day, Indiana legislative leaders annually gather for a mostly ceremonial start to the upcoming legislative session. Will 2014 be another big year for new education laws? That's hard to say. As lawmakers began to pitch ideas today for the 2014 legislative session, opinions diverged on how much could be accomplished on hot education issues like the Common Core, preschool funding and discord on the Indiana State Board of Education. Senate Education Committee chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, doesn't think education will be a big focus this time. "I don't have any priorities for education for session 2014," he said. "I think we passed some pretty significant bills the past three years and I think it's time to take a rest." But across the statehouse, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said improving early childhood education and addressing the “skills gap" that he said leaves high school graduates ill-prepared for work and college, were two of his four top priorities for 2014. He also hinted the legislature could wade into a dispute among state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana State Board of Education over who directs education policymaking. "Our state's constitution clearly gives that task to the elected legislative bodies in this chamber and the senate," Bosma said. The legislature officially began the new session Tuesday with its annual "organization day," a mostly ceremonial event. Lawmakers begin their work in earnest when they next meet in early January.
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