A partisan education
The atmosphere at recent Indiana State Board of Education meetings has been chilly enough to keep polar bears comfortable. Some of the 10 appointed board members scarcely bother to conceal their contempt for Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. She responds to their questions in a professional but curt manner.
Some partisan tension is inevitable, given that two Republican governors chose the board members. But the Times of Northwest Indiana suggests the politics are more unbalanced than state law prescribes. According to Indiana Code, no more than six of the 10 board members can be from the same political party. Gov. Mike Pence claims two are Democrats and two are independents, but the voting record of board chairman Daniel Elsener hardly looks like that of an independent. Elsener (see related piece, opposite page) has voted in GOP primaries nine out of 10 times since 1994. He also has donated nearly $11,000 to Republicans since 2001. He’s made no contributions to Democrats.
Elsener’s political affiliation might be less worrisome if the governor and state board didn’t appear to be undermining the elected state superintendent. Pence’s new agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, falls under authority of the state board instead of Ritz and the Department of Education.