Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Local News

November 16, 2013

Ritz's power grab paranoia

If ever the case was made for appointing rather than electing the Superintendent of Public Instruction, our current superintendent is making it.

But to be clear to the black helicopter teachers unionists, she’s the only one talking about it. Republicans bailed on the idea in 2005 and doubled down seconds after Tony Bennett lost his re-election campaign.

But the debate of the past is instructive on how we got to where we’re at today, which is to say in education reform hell, and where we’re going in terms of who actually controls the education agenda.

Some have suggested that both the State Board of Education and Superintendent Glenda Ritz are to blame for the current war over who sets the agenda. Ritz’s response to such a suggestion was frantic, accusing Gov. Mike Pence of not just a power grab, but a complete takeover of education policy. She also disputed the assertion that all of this fighting is hurting schools.

So then, I guess it’s helping. You’re welcome, kids. And don’t worry, more fighting and therefore help is on the way.

This power grab paranoia stems from the non-stop campaign at Ritz’s Indiana Department of Education to convince teachers and parents that Ritz is some powerless victim of the vast right wing. So let’s dwell on that for a minute. There seems to be a lingering impression that the Superintendent of Public Instruction is invested with some great constitutional power that has now been systematically removed by Republicans. This widespread belief plays itself out on Facebook pages across the state and deserves some clarification and perspective. Let’s be clear: whatever power is perceived to have rested in the superintendent’s office is not granted by law but is a byproduct of how Tony Bennett led the office and how he was supported by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

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