TERRE HAUTE —
A window to the future may be unfolding in Indiana.
By making appearances around the country and abroad, and speeches on foreign policy and topics only peripherally related to Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence seems to be seriously exploring a run for president in 2016. One festering situation in the Hoosier state makes a potential Pence presidency a troubling prospect.
The absurdly dysfunctional relationship between the state Board of Education members and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz mirrors that of Congress. The public approval rating for Congress hit a record low this month, with just 7 percent of Americans expressing solid confidence in their federal lawmakers. Why? Congress’ extreme factions adamantly refuse to work with political rivals and, thus, are on course to become the least productive Congress in American history, and all but the most politically strident people are weary of their ideological gamesmanship.
Pence and his fellow Republicans in Hoosier state government have few opponents with which to contend. They’ve won the past three governor races and hold super-majorities in the Indiana House and Senate. And the only Democrat elected to statewide office, Ritz, was a long-time Republican until the former teacher decided in 2012 to challenge Tony Bennett, a then-star of the GOP’s education reform movement.
That’s it. That’s the extent of their opposition.
Yet, from the night of her election victory Nov. 6, 2012, through last week, Ritz has seen her basic authority to perform her job disregarded, challenged and circumvented by the Board of Education members (all appointed by Pence and his predecessor, Mitch Daniels), the Republican-dominated Legislature and the governor’s team. Their tactics include Pence’s creation of a separate education agency — the Center for Education and Career Innovation, in conflict with the Department of Education, which Ritz oversees; legislative threats to make the superintendent an appointed position; and persistent efforts by Board of Education members to override her.
The latter situation has deteriorated into a soap opera of dysfunction — an embarrassment to the state. Last week, Board of Education members voted to strip more of Ritz’s powers, assuming greater control over meetings and policy oversight. They rationalized their actions as a concern that Ritz mishandled a federally required resubmission of the state’s waiver to the No Child Left Behind law, with $200 million in Title I funding at stake, and kept them out of the loop about it. More likely, it was a 28-page critique by Pence’s CECI agency of Ritz’s resubmitted waiver sent by CECI to the U.S. Department of Education, as reported by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, that left federal officials wondering what’s going on in Indiana.
Why does this power-play against Ritz continue? Maybe it’s sheer intolerance. Maybe party allies still nurse wounds over voters’ utter rejection of Bennett in favor of Ritz, a woman in Indianapolis’ otherwise male-dominated governmental power structure. Maybe it’s because she received more votes in her race — 1.3 million — than Pence did in his narrow 2012 gubernatorial win over Democrat John Gregg. Whatever the cause, the maneuvering has spawned a dysfunctional working relationship within Indiana’s education system.
The governor is in a position to repair and improve it. The long-overdue first step in that process would be to recognize the full authority of the office voters elected Ritz to fulfill. Instead, Pence, thus far, seems at peace with the dysfunction and turmoil conjured by the political ploys. He would bolster his image as a leader (and presidential candidate) by reversing course, extending genuine respect toward Ritz and demanding the same for her from his appointees and administration.
EDITORIAL: Dysfunctional relationship with schools chief doesn’t bode well for potential Pence presidency
TERRE HAUTE —
A window to the future may be unfolding in Indiana.
EDITORIAL: Greater course loads can mean quicker degrees
The impact of Indiana’s low education attainment level shows up in Hoosiers’ paychecks.
The state ranks 40th in the U.S. in the percentage of residents with college diplomas.
Readers’ Forum: July 31, 2014
• Stamp of approval
• Great job, WAXI
- Readers’ Forum: July 30, 2014
RONN MOTT: Colonoscopy No. 5
I just finished up my fifth colonoscopy last week. It had been seven years since my last one, and since my father and grandfather died of colon cancer I find it advisable to go through this procedure in attempting to live as long as I can.
Readers’ Forum: July 29, 2014
• Anything goes with the liberals
• Deserter does not deserve discharge
• Outrage lacking on IRS scandal
LIZ CIANCONE: Next century? Hope strikes out again for ‘our’ team
It is a case of hope trumping experience that my Best Friend and I looked forward to the 2014 baseball season.
Readers’ Forum: July 28, 2014
• Tea party folks misunderstood
• We have only us to blame
MARK BENNETT: Hall of Memories: Names, images of baseball greats trigger connections to our own past
Baseball Hall of Famers are just people. Totally human. Still, for Americans who follow the national pastime, those players represent a nostalgic connection to summers gone by.
Editorial: Community support crucial for workers facing layoffs
The loss of 150 jobs impacts people — the employees themselves, their families and the community. They need the support of loved ones, friends, neighbors, churches, schools, clubs and local service groups in the search for new work and clarity amid the uncertainty.
- Readers' Forum: July 27, 2014
Flashpoint: Why incumbents keep getting re-elected
Nearly three-quarters of Americans want to throw out most members of Congress, including their own representative, yet the vast majority of incumbents will be returning to Capitol Hill in January.
Flashpoint: Spreading the good word about marriage equality
If you blinked over the past month, you probably missed some news about marriage equality in Indiana.
Ronn Mott: Gaza 2014 — hatred lives on
The rockets’ red glares have turned Gaza, part of the Palestinian authority, into a battleground with Hamas, a legislative terrorist organization that has been stockpiling armaments to use against Israel for years.
- Readers’ Forum: July 25, 2014
RONN MOTT: The Czar of Russia
If you are expecting Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Republic, to react to the crisis in the Ukraine as an ordinary elected official, think again. Even though Putin is the President of the Russian Republic, this is not the job he wants. Putin also doesn’t want to be the chairman of a newly resurrected Communist Party in Russia. No, what he wants is to be the czar of a greater Russia.
Readers’ Forum: July 24, 2014
• Clinic will expand basic health access
• Misunderstanding truth about Islam
EDITORIAL: Work program needs industry buy-in
Good help is hard to find. That’s essentially what Indiana companies have insisted for several years. The state struggles with a “skills gap,” the firms explain. They need employees, but can’t find enough — or in some cases, any — qualified Hoosiers. Businesses say too few applicants possess the “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time or being able to effectively communicate with co-workers.
- Readers’ Forum: July 23, 2014
RONN MOTT: Dragonfly
The other morning I was moving the canister that holds our recycling material out to the curb when I saw a strange sight. What I saw was a dragonfly fighting with a bee.
FLASHPOINT: News about reality, not affirmation
The public’s trust in the news media keeps dwindling. At the same time, Americans’ political polarization keeps increasing.
LIZ CIANCONE: Chickens as pets always turned out same way
I suppose many of us who grew up on farms or in small towns adopted unusual pets. I had a fondness for chickens. My folks always kept a few chickens, not only to fry or roast, but also for the eggs.
Readers’ forum: July 22, 2014
• Supt. Ritz has right to govern
• A tribute to a teacher
• Rep. Pelosi shows ‘bungling idiocy’
Readers’ forum: July 21, 2014
• Theater brings the joy of music
• Drawing closer to the spirit
• Give some space to heterosexuals
MARK BENNETT: Former Terre Hautean Jim Lovell stood ready as Neil Armstrong’s backup on Apollo 11
The words “Apollo 11” stir optimism in me.
I was an elementary school kid growing up in Vigo County when Neil Armstrong put the first footprint on the moon on July 20, 1969. So much seemed possible
EDITORIAL: Vigo Jail study essential to determine strategy
It comes as encouraging news that the Vigo County Council might include in its 2015 budget significant funding for an expert and neutral study of what can be done to replace or enhance the existing county jail.
Readers’ forum: July 20, 2014
• ‘Hotel Indiana’ has a sour tune
• Kind words about the newspaper
• Some questions about RTL video
• No mercy for cop killers
• Crack down on gun violence
• Anti-Dem tirades mask GOP failures
• Important day for participants
• Appreciation for support
FLASHPOINT: Solve our border crisis
More than 60,000 unaccompanied alien children — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been apprehended on America’s southern border during this fiscal year.
RONN MOTT: World Cup over, but it was fun
After many weeks and many games, the World Cup is over. While the world calls it “futbol,” only we in North America play another brand of football. It is very simple to understand why this is the world’s favorite game … all it takes is an empty lot, a round soccer ball, and you can get a futbol game together.
FLASHPOINT: Living in peaceful communities requires collaboration
Hoosiers have the right to live in peace. Yet, too many of our friends and neighbors are currently living in fear.
Flashpoint: Will Gov. Pence be true to his word?
This is written in response to recent remarks made by State Board of Education members.
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- EDITORIAL: Greater course loads can mean quicker degrees