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Column: Republican legislators have little trust in state schools chief


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Quick question: Would you trust somebody who publicly declared time and again that they opposed basically everything you represented?

Or here’s another question: Would you trust someone who found the work you do so offensive that they filed a lawsuit against you to stop one of your biggest achievements?

Of course you wouldn’t.

So why in the name of common sense should Republicans trust Glenda Ritz?

Now this is the part where you say, “Oh, Abdul! You’re still bitter about Glenda beating your buddy Tony Bennett in the last election.”

Not really.

Bennett is doing quite well in Florida.

We chatted the other day, and he was in good spirits. I would be, too, if I were making three times my old salary and living in Florida, but I digress.

Democrats and supporters of the old education status quo, which was symbolized by no accountability and poor performance, are complaining that Indiana House Republicans are trying to strip Ritz of her authority as superintendent of public instruction.

They point to one particular House bill as prime evidence, HB 1342. One would have moved oversight of the state’s school voucher program, which benefits 9,100 kids and their families, from the superintendent’s office to the governor’s office.

Liberals and status quo supporters screamed bloody murder when it was introduced. However, they were silent regarding the delay by Ritz’s office to get the voucher program moving forward for this year.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, eventually did assign the bill to the Rules Committee after he got assurances from Ritz that there was nothing sinister in the delay, but they were just slow and promised to pick up the pace.

I don’t doubt the veracity of Ritz or her staff, but you need to remember she was a plaintiff on the original voucher lawsuit that is now before the Indiana Supreme Court. She also ran a campaign against many of the reforms that are now in place. She also was on the board of the Indiana State Teachers Association during the time it nearly went belly up over an insurance securities scandal, and she was the head of the union in Washington Township schools during a massive cheating scandal and was completely silent on the issue.

Does this sound like someone you would blindly trust?

Of course not.

And neither do Indiana House Republicans.

Luckily for Ritz, Brian Bosma is a much more giving person than me. He told me last week on the floor that when it comes to Ritz, he takes a Ronald Reagan approach: “Trust, but verify.”

I take that as meaning that the GOP will give Ritz her due but make sure she carries out the reforms many people have fought for and from which children of Indiana are benefiting.

And if Ritz is smart, she will. Otherwise she can apply for the job in 2017 after she finishes her term because it will have become an appointed position like it should have years ago.

Abdul Hakim Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.Org. He is also a frequent contributor to numerous Indiana media outlets. He can be reached at abdul@indypolitics.org.

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