NCLB Waiver Source Of Latest Clash Between Ritz, IBOE
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz says her efforts to extend the state’s waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act are being undermined by the State Board of Education.
Ritz, a Democrat, makes the same accusation of another education agency: the Center for Education and Career Innovation created and largely appointed by Republican Governor Mike Pence last year.
On Wednesday, the state board – made up of mostly members appointed by Republican Pence and predecessor Mitch Daniels – will meet to consider several measures that would place new restrictions on Ritz’s department and take away some of her power. It’s the latest in a series of rifts between Ritz, who was elected in a political upset over incumbent Republican state superintendent Tony Bennett in 2012, and the state board since she took office.
Ritz said in a statement Tuesday that one of the resolutions could place the state’s NCLB waiver in serious jeopardy by calling into question the steps the IDOE took in submitting a series of waiver amendments last month.
“I have said from the start that I am a strong proponent of renewing and extending our waiver. Unfortunately, the Governor-appointed State Board of Education and his separate education staff appear determined to undermine our work,” Ritz said.
A resolution authored by some board members states that Ritz did not inform the board last year when the state superintendent first learned that Indiana’s NCLB waiver – and the roughly $230 million in federal education dollars it allows the state to control – may be in question by the U.S. Department of Education. The resolution also maintains that Ritz did not provide the board information it had requested about possible solutions.
Ritz said the resolution unfairly questions the honesty and capacity of her administration to implement the waiver and may result in ramifications from Washington.
“I am fully committed to implementing our waiver,” she added. “Both the Governor and our legislative leaders have said that they fully support our waiver extension. Based in part on this support, the Department of Education spent countless hours preparing and submitting our waiver application.
“The Board has made it clear that they will not listen to me or the Department. I have asked that the Governor remove this resolution from consideration tomorrow before our schools and students suffer the consequences,” said Ritz.
Ritz has asked Governor Mike Pence to remove the resolution from Wednesday’s meeting agenda.
She is seeking a one-year extension of the current NCLB waiver. According to The Indianapolis Star, the U.S. DOE’s May announcement about Indiana’s waiver status cited as problems the state’s failure to conduct teacher and principal evaluations and assisting failing schools as agreed. A decision on the waiver could be made by federal officials by the end of July.