Ritz Accuses Indiana’s Pence of Doing End Run in Creation of K-12 Dept

Maybe Indiana Governor Mike Pence was just looking for a fresh start for his state’s education system when he announced the creation of the Center for Innovation and Career Education – and listed K-12 education quality oversight as one of its duties. But to Democrat Glenda Ritz, who last November upset the former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett to take over the post this year, Pence is attempting an end run in order to cut her out and avoid working with someone who was ideologically out of sync.

Last week Pence’s office released a statement heralding the creation of CICE, saying that the new body will work to foster links between Indiana’s public education system and the private sector while at the same time holding actors in the state’s education system accountable for their performance.

“Indiana has made great strides in the last eight years when it comes to improving education and workforce development opportunities for Hoosiers, but with unemployment stubbornly staying above eight percent, there is still work to be done,” said Governor Pence. “The Center for Education and Career Innovation will strive to improve coordination between pertinent agency partners and industry voices to ensure a world-class education for students and to better prepare adults to be successful in their chosen career pathway that also meets industry demands. By creating a focal point for bringing together and deploying critical resources, the agency will deliver real change in Indiana, benefiting Hoosier families, employers and taxpayers, and, ultimately, impacting every Hoosier across the state.”

Indiana has had its share of problems lately, especially related to an Associated Press story that accused Bennett of altering the state’s school assessment formula to boost the grade of a charter school run by a GOP political operative. However, at least according to the statement released by Ritz in response to Pence’s announcement, regardless of how much Pence attempted to cloak CICE’s mission in work-standards-related language, the agency was there, at least in part, to tread on her toes.

 In response to Governor Mike Pence’s announcement that the Indiana Center for Education and Career Innovation would partner with the Indiana Department of Education, Daniel Altman, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education issued the following statement:

“Partnerships require communication.  Unfortunately, Superintendent Ritz learned about the creation of this new agency through news reports, rather than from Governor Pence.  Superintendent Ritz has met with the Governor on many occasions, including as recently as two days ago.  However, neither he, nor his office, mentioned the creation of this new agency until this morning.

“Superintendent Ritz remains committed to transforming Indiana’s K-12 education system into one of equity and high quality for all students and she looks forward to working with all Hoosiers to achieve that goal.  Last November, 1.3 million Hoosiers said that they trusted her to run the Department of Education.  Hoosier students would be better off if the Governor would work with her, rather than around her on this vital issue.”