Indiana State Board of Education

Indiana

At legislative kickoff, lawmakers ponder preschool, state board and Common Core

On Organization Day, Indiana legislative leaders annually gather for a mostly ceremonial start to the upcoming legislative session. Will 2014 be another big year for new education laws? That's hard to say. As lawmakers began to pitch ideas today for the 2014 legislative session, opinions diverged on how much could be accomplished on hot education issues like the Common Core, preschool funding and discord on the Indiana State Board of Education. Senate Education Committee chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, doesn't think education will be a big focus this time. "I don't have any priorities for education for session 2014," he said. "I think we passed some pretty significant bills the past three years and I think it's time to take a rest." But across the statehouse, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said improving early childhood education and addressing the “skills gap" that he said leaves high school graduates ill-prepared for work and college, were two of his four top priorities for 2014. He also hinted the legislature could wade into a dispute among state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana State Board of Education over who directs education policymaking. "Our state's constitution clearly gives that task to the elected legislative bodies in this chamber and the senate," Bosma said. The legislature officially began the new session Tuesday with its annual "organization day," a mostly ceremonial event. Lawmakers begin their work in earnest when they next meet in early January.
Indiana

Judge dismisses Ritz's lawsuit against the state board

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, left, at Friday's Indiana State Board of Education meeting. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg dismissed state Superintendent Glenda Ritz's lawsuit against the Indiana State Board of Education today, saying she could not initiate a lawsuit without consulting with Attorney General Greg Zoeller. Ritz last month sued the other 10 members of the Indiana State Board of Education objecting to their effort to enlist legislative leaders to help calculate A to F grades for public and most private schools. Board members had complained Ritz was not working fast enough to issue the grades for schools; she said she had to wait for more data. After Friday's state board meeting, Ritz said she had not determined her next move. "This case was filed because I believed the board took illegal action outside of the public arena and that needed to be stopped," she said. "I am disappointed in today's ruling and concerned for all Hoosiers that have their lives affected by unelected boards, particularly those that act, perhaps, in secret." The suit was the apex of a long-running series of disputes between Ritz, the only Democrat in statewide office, and the rest of the board, all of whom are appointed by Republican governors. The suit argued that the board's letter to legislative leaders violated the state’s transparency laws. By jointly signing it, Ritz argued, the board effectively made a decision outside of a public meeting, which her suit contended a violation of state law. But Zoeller quickly moved to have the suit dismissed by arguing Ritz could not use Indiana Department of Education lawyers to file the suit. Zoeller argued that Ritz could only initiate a lawsuit with assistance from his office. Rosenberg agreed. In his decision, he said Ritz's arguments were "not consistent with the underlying purpose" of state law and that Zoeller's arguments were "more plausible."