Thursday, February 19, 2015

Senate Passes Bill to Deny Ritz Board Leadership

The Indiana Senate passed a bill that strips the Superintendent of Public Instruction of her automatic role as chair of the state's Board of Education. (The bill was Senate Bill 1, which gives you an idea of the priority it was given by the governor and his supermajority.) The Senate bill, however, makes some significant changes in the Board's make up. It shrinks the board from 10 to 9, of which only four would be appointed by the governor; other members would be the Superintendent and one appointee each from the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. Needless to say, the Governor is less than thrilled that his appointments to the board will shrink from 10 to 4.

The bill passed by the House has no such structural changes to the Board, so the two bills will have to be reconciled and a compromise bill voted on before the session ends. You can be sure that at the end of that process the superintendent's office will have lost the chairmanship of the Board of education that it has held for more than a century.

Buck Creek Senator Brandt Hershman, one of the Senate bill's authors, claimed the bill does not significantly strip power from Ritz: "Hoosiers have an innate sense of fairness. And many of them have been badly and purposely misled about what Senate Bill 1 does. The superintendent remains the superintendent." If Hershman thinks folks with a sense of fairness will think this shameless power play is fair, he probably has another think coming. And who's being misleading when Hershman suggests that SB 1 does not significantly alter the office of Superintendent?

Read more from the J&C here and from the Fort Wayne News Sentinel here.