EDITORIAL: Ritz takes jab at sparring state board

2013-10-30T00:00:00Z 2013-10-30T17:23:09Z EDITORIAL: Ritz takes jab at sparring state board nwitimes.com
October 30, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz recently filed suit against the State Board of Education after the board tried to do an end run around her agency. The two should be working with, not against, each other.

Ritz's suit accuses the board of violating Indiana's Open Door Law by failing to give notice to the public — and to Ritz, who chairs the board — it would be taking official action without the oversight of public scrutiny.

Multiple board members have confirmed they didn't meet in person, but rather signed off on a draft letter to House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, asking that the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency calculate school accountability grades. The letter accused Ritz of dragging her feet.

Bosma and Long agreed to the request.

Ritz's suit says this constitutes official action, which requires public notice. She's right.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller has asked that the suit be dismissed, on the grounds the attorney general's office is supposed to be the one to represent state agencies.

Zoeller should say he would gladly represent Ritz in her push to hold the board accountable for acting in secret rather than doing the public's business in public.

Ritz, a Democrat, has had a contentious relationship with the board, whose members were appointed by Republican governors.

The board has every right to voice its frustration with Ritz in public, just as she has the right to complain about the board in public. The key here is to include the public in these deliberations.

For its part, the board should work with Ritz rather than against her. Like it or not, the voters overwhelmingly chose Ritz to be Indiana's primary voice on education issues. Let her have her say.

Protect the gains made in previous years' education reforms, but don't try to circumvent her authority.

And listen to the public as well.

New State Board of Education member Gordon Hendry is planning a statewide listening tour. Ritz and the other board members should follow his lead.

Hoosiers need to see the board and Ritz can work together. Indiana's children, not political ideology, should be their primary focus.

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