“In all fairness, Superintendent Ritz was a librarian, okay? But she’s…uh… She’s a bright person." ---Senator David Long Speaks Out on Dysfunction
The 2015 Legislative Session of Indiana is off to a roaring start. The corporate reformer legislators are looking to continue with their agenda and apparently Superintendent Glenda Ritz is standing in their way. It is vitally important that we all write to the House Education Committee members and Senate Education Committee members as well as our own legislators and let them know where we stand.
But for fuel to light your fire, let me show you what senator David Long, president pro tempore of the Indiana state senate, had to say about our superintendent of public instruction Glenda Ritz and the state board of education while on the Fort Wayne show "Prime Time 39". From the senator:
"Right now we have had a dysfunctional relationship between the superintendent of public schools and the board. The board is made up of 11 people including the superintendent and she is also the chairperson of that board. It is not working.
Then Long took a question from a caller:
A woman caller, "Laura," asks:
“Senator Long, have you ever watched any of the board of education meetings?”
He responds “Yes, I have.”
Caller: “Okay. I have, too, and when you talk about dysfunction, I think in particular, you have a couple of men on there who are very sexist and they don’t want to listen to what a woman has to say. Superintendent Ritz is a very, um, she’s won a lot of awards as a teacher. She knows a lot about teaching. She knows more about teaching than every board member put together. And I think that there’s been such a loss of respect. Especially with a couple of men—one who hasn’t taught in a K-12 school in over 18 years and another one who is an attorney…”
Ironically, Senator Long interrupts this woman: “Let me try to answer your question there and I appreciate your comment.”
He goes on:
Let us be clear. While Senator Long and other talking heads in the statehouse (and governor's mansion, for that matter) act like it is the structure of the department of education that is the problem, we know that Suellen Reed served well as a republican superintendent under democrat Governor O'Bannon and Gov. Kernan. There were no complaints back then. But when Governor Daniels and Superintendent Tony Bennett came on the scene with an ALEC-backed, corporate-education reform vengeance, Hoosiers objected loudly and embraced democrat Glenda Ritz for their superintendent of public instruction.
Let us also point out that there are 7 states who elect their state board of education members, who then elect the superintendent of instruction. There are 8 states besides Indiana who elect their superintendent of public instruction. Add to this 9 other states in which there are some state board members elected, but not all, and you have a wide variety of democratically elected positions. In fact, there are roughly only 14 states that have their board members appointed by the governor alone. Indiana is not really an oddball at all, but one of many states that allow the electorate to have some sway over education positions other than the governor.
No, Senator Long, the dysfunction is not in the structure of our state board and department of education. The dysfunction lies in a governor and his super majority who are trying to continue their corporate reform (privatization) education agenda at any cost. They will circumvent democracy and justify it by calling Ritz dysfunctional or a "catalyst."
Dysfunction is ignoring the hundreds of thousands of voters who wanted Ritz to lead, who embraced her platform, and who showed more support for her than for the governor himself. Dysfunction is creating your own news agency to tell the story the way you want it to be painted. And, unfortunately, dysfunction is a passive citizenry that will not vote these people out.
Please speak up NOW.