Ritz, Pence spar over new education agency

Published: .
Updated: .

It was meant to be a routine photo opportunity, but a new initiative from Governor Mike Pence appears to have sparked a war of words.

On Friday morning, the governor signed an executive order establishing the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI). CECI will improve collaboration among Indiana's public, private and non-profit education and workforce partners by aligning education and career and workforce training efforts. The center will focus on students, clients and results, and will work to ensure Indiana is providing quality education for children and preparing adults for new careers, according to the governor's office.

But Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said she didn't know anything about it. The Indiana Department of Education released this statement Friday morning:

"Partnerships require communication. Unfortunately, Superintendent Ritz learned about the creation of this new agency through news reports, rather than from Governor Pence. Superintendent Ritz has met with the Governor on many occasions, including as recently as two days ago. However, neither he, nor his office, mentioned the creation of this new agency until this morning. Superintendent Ritz remains committed to transforming Indiana's K-12 education system into one of equity and high quality for all students and she looks forward to working with all Hoosiers to achieve that goal. Last November, 1.3 million Hoosiers said that they trusted her to run the Department of Education. Hoosiers students would be better off if the Governor would work with her, rather than around her on this vital issue."

Governor Pence's office maintains that the governor told Ritz about possible plans to reorganize a number of agencies in a conversation earlier this week.

"Governor Pence considers education and workforce development to be of the highest importance and will continue to collaborate with other departments of state government to ensure the best outcomes for our children and Hoosier adults in the workforce. In that regard, the Governor instructed his staff to brief the Superintendent's office prior to today's announcement of the Center for Education and Career Innovation. As records reflect, the staff did inform the Superintendent's staff prior to the announcement. Staff also briefed other elected officials in the same manner," his office stated. "The administration looks forward to working with Superintendent Ritz and the Department of Education as we work together to better education for the children of Indiana."