INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO): The proposal from Governor Mike Pence that would likely remove Glenda Ritz as chair of the State Board of Education is now before the legislature, and it would also mean major changes to the board if it passes.
A bill introduced by Republican Senator Travis Holdman would make Indiana's Board of Education like most others around the country, in that the chair would be selected by board members. It has long been state law that the elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction was automatically chair of the board. But when he outlined his legislative agenda, Pence said the change was needed to end what some perceive as the bickering that takes place between Ritz, the only Democrat holding statewide office, and other board members, all of whom have been appointed by Republican governors.
The bill would also take away two of Pence's appointments to the board, with one going to the Speaker of the House and another to the President Pro Tem of the Senate. It could also reduce the number of State Board meetings to once every six months – the board meets monthly and has long been known for sessions that last up to eight hours or more. In addition, Holdman's bill would eliminate a requirement that no more than six of the ten appointed members be from the same political party. It would also get rid of rules that have at least one member from each Congressional district and to have at least some board members be active teachers.
Ritz has said there is no need to remove her as chair of the board, since that was part of the job description when she upset Republican Superintendent Tony Bennett in the November 2012 election. But Pence seemed to promote the idea as a compromise since he also agreed to eliminate the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI), the education agency that Ritz claimed was trying to usurp the power of her Department of Education. The CECI will be dissolved after next month's scheduled State Board meeting.
Holdman's bill has not be assigned to a committee.