Pence asks national board for help in education fight

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz

Governor Mike Pence is asking a national school boards group to step into an ongoing power struggle with state Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

The fight between Ritz and Pence reached a new level this week when the Democratic schools superintendent stormed out of a meeting of the State Board of Education.

On Friday, the Republican governor wrote a letter to state education board members offering guidance from the National Association of State Boards of Education.

The fight over control of Indiana's education policy has been escalating throughout the year.

Ritz chairs the board as schools superintendent, but the other board members were appointed by either Pence or former Gov. Mitch Daniels. Pence's creation of a new education agency prompted Ritz to accuse the governor of a "complete takeover" of education.

Read the governor's letter here.

Ritz issued this response through Daniel Altman, press secretary for the Indiana Department of Education:

"Superintendent Ritz has previously requested that the Board meet for orientation where some of these issues could have been addressed. She has said repeatedly that the source of this conflict is not with individual board members, but with the Governor's newly created education agency.

If Governor Pence is serious about resolving this issue, he needs to engage with Superintendent Ritz directly rather than through the media. For the Governor to claim that this can be resolved without his direct involvement shows that he simply has not been listening.

The Governor and Superintendent Ritz need to speak about this matter before involving any outside parties. Superintendent Ritz looks forward to working with the Governor to resolve this current issue."

Also, the Interim Study Committee on Common Educational Standards was unable to pass a recommendation that Indiana "cultivate new academic standards." The Indiana Chamber of Commerce sent out a press release emphasizing its support for the Common Core program and said it will push for legislation that addresses "student data concerns."

"We need to improve student learning, meet the essential college- and career-ready requirement and have an appropriate student assessment system. Those elements all currently exist within the Common Core State Standards program, which we continue to fully support," said Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. "We've yet to see any reasonable alternative presented that also checks all those boxes. If that does happen at some point in this lengthy review process, all involved will need to determine whether or not it truly raises the bar for Hoosier students."