From: Julian Smith
Received: Sept. 7
I have received information concerning the latest State Board of Education meeting as well as the governor’s recent announcement that leaves me greatly disappointed and perplexed.
I am vehemently opposed to the continued and consistent ongoing disregard and overt contempt displayed by the State Board of Education toward our duly elected superintendent of public instruction, Glenda Ritz. Additionally, I could not be more opposed to what appears to be the Pence administration’s effort to purposefully marginalize the superintendent by dishonoring and disregarding the voice of Hoosier voters.
Voters elected Ritz as they obviously disagreed with Superintendent Tony Bennett (he had the huge war chest, a well-oiled political machine as well as all the name recognition both statewide and nationally) and his “my way or the highway” philosophy. Now Pence has appointed a committee as well as a chairman to, in essence, marginalize Ritz and dishonor the voice of the voter and continue exactly that which was so soundly defeated in the election.
Is Indiana intending to follow the federal example of having two governments, one duly elected or appointed and approved by Congress and another hand-picked by the president? This creation of a shadow government is just as wrong here as it is in Washington. Considering that the governor appears to be creating this structure to bypass working within a system created by the Indiana Constitution and supported by voters is particularly repugnant and should be stopped.
Following the notes from the previous three meetings of the State Board of Education,
apparently the Pence administration is less than willing to work within guidelines established by the voters. The governor seems to be doing everything possible to continue with the Bennett doctrine (he has publicly endorsed an A-F system that has proven unreliable when even the favored plum schools gets C’s) and eliminate Ritz from exercising any effectiveness (except that of figurehead) by shoving her to the side.
It has been stated ad nauseam that elections have consequences. Perhaps that is true, unless one retains enough power following an election to act as a bully and by strong arm tactics the will of the voter can be obfuscated?
Republicans are supposed to be about limited government, local autonomy, getting government out of the way, letting experts do their work (at least that’s why I’m a Republican), but that is far from the truth for public schools. Republican legislators can’t have it both ways for long before the voter catches on and holds them accountable at the ballot box. Should they desire to retain power (as politicians do), they need to return to advocating from a Republican ideal in all arenas.
We should not use tax dollars to duplicate governmental agencies (a paramount Republican ideal), and under no circumstances should an elected official be usurped by an illegitimate or appointed one.
Julian Smith is president of the Jennings County Classroom Teachers Association.