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August 13, 2013

READERS' FORUM: Aug. 13, 2013

Get politics out of education

If you thought you elected Glenda Ritz as your new superintendent of public instruction in Indiana to break the Republican stranglehold on Indiana education, you might want to look again.

Recent moves by Gov. Pence shows us that he will not allow that to happen. Our new governor’s recent moves demonstrate his willingness to bypass what Indiana voters chose in the last election. Traditionally, the state superintendent has been responsible for planning, research and implementation of new programs to better our young people’s education. Now the governor is making an end run around the state superintendent by choosing a new special assistant for education innovation and reform. And the board appointed by Gov. Pence has made it clear they have no intention of letting Mrs. Ritz carry out the job she was given. He is also using taxpayer dollars to bypass the duly elected superintendent.

If you have been following education in Indiana under Republican control, you know that their primary goal is school choice and more and more charter schools. More and more money for charter schools means less and less money for traditional free public education.

Mrs. Ritz is not in favor of much of the Republican agenda so the governor decided to bypass her and hire his own people, at taxpayer expense, to do things his way — regardless of the opinions expressed by voters in the last election.

This board, appointed by the governor, will be responsible only to the governor, and not answerable to Mrs. Ritz — the duly elected superintendent.

One of the reasons I left teaching years ago was because of the politics in education. It looks like Gov. Pence intends to make sure politics controls education in Indiana — even if he has to bypass the voters to do it. I think someone in the Department of Education or the legislature needs to sue the governor and demand that he follow the will of voters and return control of Indiana’s education to the state superintendent of public instruction.

You may remember the Republicans in our state legislature tried unsuccessfully to make that office an appointed rather than an elected office. When that failed, the Republican governor decided to make politics more important than the education of Hoosier children. That is not the message he purveyed while trying to win election as governor. Letting the current situation stand is a gross injustice. People need to stand up and let the governor know the education of their children and grandchildren is more important than politics as usual.

— Bill Pearman


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