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Another state's education power struggle

It will be the end of the legislative session before Indiana voters know exactly what Republican lawmakers did to marginalize Glenda Ritz, newly elected superintendent of public instruction. But chances are it can't be worse than what the Wyoming legislature and Republican Gov. Matt Mead have done to Cindy Hill, the GOP schools chief.

Education Week's Andrew Ujifusa writes of the ugly intra-party stand-off at his State EdWatch blog. He cites a Casper Star-Tribune report that the governor has signed legislation effectively removing the superintendent of public instruction from overseeing Wyoming public schools. The bill transfers her duties to a new director he appointed this week.

Hill isn't going down without a fight. She showed up at the governor's press conference with an attorney to serve Mead with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of his decision.

If Indiana lawmakers want a preview of what a power struggle with the duly elected state superintendent might look like, they can look to Wyoming.

Public sentiment, by the way, seems to be running with Cindy Hill, who today announced she will challenge the governor in 2014.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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