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House votes to grab power from Ritz

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indiana House of Representatives has voted to remove Glenda Ritz as chairman of the State Board of Education.

It’s the latest development in a battle between Ritz and the governor.

It was an interesting vote in the Indiana House, 58-to-40, with most but not all of the Republicans voting to remove the Democratic state school Superintendent from what previously was an automatic appointment as chairman of the State Board of Education.

It came just hours after the GOP governor announced that he has issued an executive order demanding that the ISTEP test be made shorter.

Pence blamed dysfunction on the state board and also blamed the state Department of Education which are both led by Glenda Ritz.

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In a rare floor speech House Speaker Brian Bosma tried to connect the testing problems to the power grab.

“This has gone from dysfunctional to now detrimental to students,” said Bosma. “And when we put out something, a proposal that our policy making body doesn’t even have an opportunity to weigh in on to increase testing by three times there is something dramatically wrong, not dysfunction, detriment.”

“You’re saying that the people don’t matter,” said Minority Leader Scott Pelath. “You’re saying that the bureaucrats, the bureaucrats, hand-picked people oughta be the ones who determine what happens in classrooms like mine in Michigan City.”

The bill to remove Ritz now goes to the state Senate.

The governor, meantime, has hired outside experts to figure out how to shorten the ISTEP test. Pence later released a statement following the House passing HB 1609.

“Allowing the State Board of Education to elect its chair is an important step to restore the kind of harmony and consensus needed to serve our students and our schools. I commend the leadership of Speaker Brian Bosma, Representative Jud McMillin and all the members of the House of Representatives who acted today to fix what is broken in education governance for the benefit of all our kids.”

They will make recommendations to Glenda Ritz but she doesn’t have to follow them.

Find out more about the bill by clicking here.

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