EDITORIAL: Indiana doesn't need extra education agency

2014-02-10T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Indiana doesn't need extra education agency nwitimes.com
February 10, 2014 12:00 am  • 

House Republicans stood up for costly duplication of services when they thwarted Democratic leader Scott Pelath's attempt to pull the financial plug on the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

The justification for this new agency is that the State Board of Education needs its own support staff. But it sure looks like it's just another sign of the power struggle for control of education in Indiana.

In August, Gov. Mike Pence created the CECI, saying its mission includes integrating education and workforce training in Indiana by bringing various school and employment boards and agencies under a single umbrella.

Talk to State Board of Education members, though, and they say they need that agency to do research and other work for them.

What those board members, appointed by the Republican governor, don't say is that they've clashed with Democrat Glenda Ritz, who as superintendent of public instruction not only chairs the board but also heads the Department of Education.

The 18 CECI staffers earn more than $1.4 million, in salaries. Several even earn more than the governor's $111,000 annual salary.

And this agency wasn't authorized in the biennial budget approved by the Indiana General Assembly. The agency wasn't created until after the conflict between Ritz and the State Board of Education began.

Pelath proposed an amendment to House Bill 1319 that would have stopped the Office of Management and Budget from spending any additional money on CECI. The proposal was defeated 63-26 on a party-line vote.

"I am disappointed to see that this effort was rejected by a majority that used to pride itself on criticizing redundancy and bureaucratic bloat in government," Pelath said.

Let the Indiana Department of Education handle the responsibilities assigned to CECI — including support for the State Board of Education.

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