Indiana Senate Passes Bill Targeting Elected State Superintendent Glenda Ritz


The Indiana Senate passed a bill Tuesday that strips the elected State Superintendent of her chairmanship on the State Board of Education.

The change allows the State Board of Education to select its own chairperson. It would also change the composition of the board from ten members to nine members.

The Indiana Senate approved the bill in a 33-17 vote. The bill targets Glenda Ritz, the current state superintendent and the only elected statewide Democrat, who has clashed with the governor-appointed board.

As the Indianapolis Star reports, supporters of the bill in the legislature say that the proposal will make the Board of Education more efficient:

Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, said the superintendent of public instruction position was intended to enact the education policies of the legislature. But he said that process has not been working lately.

Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne and the Senate president pro tempore, said SB1 was about eliminating dysfunction from the operation of the Board of Education.

Opponents of the bill say that Republicans are attempting to reverse the results of the 2012 election.

Ritz was elected in 2012 with the support of 1.3 million Hoosiers, equivalent to nearly 53 percent of the vote. Ritz received both a higher number of votes and a higher percentage of the vote than Governor Mike Pence in the same election.

She defeated incumbent Tony Bennett, who oversaw a number of controversial reforms including a letter-based grading system for schools, the largest voucher program in the country, and the adoption of Common Core.

Bennett was the focus of an ethics probe after leaving office. Bennett was forced to pay a fine after it was found that he had used state resources to coordinate campaign events. Bennett was also accused of altering the state’s school evaluation formula to benefit a charter school whose founder was a major Republican donor.

The Indiana House passed its version of the bill in a 58-40 vote.

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