Sunday, February 8, 2015

Indiana GOP prepares to strip elected Superintendent of Education of her Powers

Don't like who those pesky voters elected (or whatever)? It's a simple solution if you control all the levers of power . . .

The evil bastards in Indianapolis are at it again. This isn't really going to be a terrifically long blog-post, but I thought people should know. Indiana's Governor, Mike Pence, and his allies in Indiana's overwhelmingly RepubliCon legislature, are putting into place a law that would, in direct contravention to the expressed wishes of Indiana voters, remove Glenda Ritz, a former award-winning educator, and current Superintendent of Public Instruction, as head of the State Board of Education. Indiana hadn't elected a Democrat to a "downballot race," since 1996, and Glenda Ritz's huge upset win over since-disgraced Dr. Tony Bennett, was a shock to most of the political class in Indiana, back in 2012.

From Diana Ravitch:

Ritz won with a bipartisan coalition and beat incumbent Tony Bennett, whose campaign outspent Ritz’s by 10-1. Ritz won more votes than Pence in the general election. Under Tony Bennett, Indiana education policy favored for-profit charter schools, vouchers, high-stakes testing, and attacks on the teaching profession (he was chair of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change and adopted all of Bush’s favored policies). After he resigned, he was immediately hired to be State Superintendent in Florida, but then quickly resigned when AP reporter Tom LoBianco revealed that Bennett had altered the A-F grading system to protect the charter school of one of his major campaign donors.

Since taking office, Ritz has sought to improve public education in Indiana from a teacher's perspective, in the face of massive pressure from Indiana's overwhelmingly GOP power structure.

In an increasingly escalated response, Pence's allies in the Indiana legislature have authored a trio of bills that would simply remove the elected Superintendent of Education as the head of the state's Board of Education, and allow one of several RepubliCon-dominated entities to choose the her replacement, usually the GOP-dominated Board of Education itself:

From The Indianapolis Star

The legislation would allow the board to choose its own chair instead of falling under the de facto leadership of the state superintendent, a four-year post filled by Indiana voters. This marks the latest attempt by Republicans to wrest control of education in Indiana away from Ritz, a Democrat.

State Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) filed Senate Bill 1, which would seek to have the leader of the State Board of Education appointed by other members. Holdman is the assistant majority whip. . . .

The clause allowing the board to choose its own chair would sunset in January 2016, the same year Ritz's term expires.*

* BOLD MINE Get it? They're only stripping the Superintendent of Education of her powers so long as "SHE'S" the one getting elected by those damned pesky voters. No doubt if Glenda Ritz were to be elected again in 2016, (with more votes statewide than Governor Pence, or Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly, by the way) they would just pass another "temporary fix" to the whole "Democratic-former-educators-getting-elected-to-Superintendent-of-Education" problem the GOP is currently has.

Make no mistake, this is a NAKED POWER GRAB, by an already way-too-powerful Indiana GOP that can't stand the idea of an actual former educator (and union President) actually winning elections, and supporting pro-public school policies down in Indianapolis.

If you live in Indiana, please CALL AND EMAIL your legislators and tell them to vote NO on Senate Bills 1, 452, and 453. These abominations almost certainly have to votes to pass Indiana's rock-ribbed RepubliCon legislature, but occasionally, in the last couple of years, the GOoPers have slithered back into their holes when the light of day is shown on their nefarious activities, of which this naked power grab is only the latest and most pestilent example.

PS: I live in Chicago, but am a proud union teacher in Northwest Indiana, although I am not acting in any official capacity with this blog-post.

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