TERRE HAUTE — A growing divide between the state Superintendent of Public Instruction and the state Board of Education — as well as the creation of a new agency that deals with education — is affecting communication between those parties, Glenda Ritz said during a visit to Terre Haute on Friday.
“It’s affecting communication. It leads to more miscommunication,” said Ritz, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, when interviewed by reporters. “It’s starting to feel as if we have an agency overseeing an agency.”
She was referring to Gov. Mike Pence’s recent creation of the new Center for Education and Career Innovation, an agency that includes the state Board of Education, although the board will function independently. The state Board of Education’s budget will be directed through the new center.
On Friday, Ritz said that ever since the state Board of Education was created, it’s not had its own budget under the governor’s office, nor had its own staff separate from DOE. It’s “challenging” to work with the new, changing system, she said.
The intent of the new agency is to make sure students graduate with the skills they need to enter the workforce, Pence has said.
Ritz is a Democrat who defeated Republican Tony Bennett last fall. The state board has been appointed by Republican governors Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence.
Also recently, the 10-member state board voted unanimously to embark on a strategic planning process without providing Ritz advance notice.
While challenges exist, Ritz said the DOE “is committed to working with its goals and making sure we accomplish what we want to accomplish for the state of Indiana … we have several things we’re working on, from standards to assessments to a new accountability system.”
Ritz had no comment when asked about news reports indicating that Bennett, while state superintendent, instructed his DOE staff to do election campaign work and kept campaign databases on DOE servers.