Education Board Member Responds to Ritz Lawsuit

24 Oct

Gazette Staff

 

 

Dr. Brad Oliver, a member of the Indiana Board of Education who was recently named in the lawsuit by Glenda Ritz, issued the following statement:

 

Dear Fellow Indiana Educators,

 

For over 20 years, I have enjoyed serving children and working alongside some incredibly talented educators in our State. I trust those who have worked with me over the years, or for whom I had the privilege of teaching as a University professor, will attest to my commitment for being a principled leader — a leader who is highly relational and passionate about finding win-win solutions, especially when facing complex challenges.

 

When I first learned that Governor Pence had appointed me to the State Board of Education, I was both honored and encouraged by the opportunity to exhibit even greater influence on our State’s system of education. I have always enjoyed strong bipartisan friendships, particularly among educators, and brought to the role of State Board member a desire to work very closely with Superintendent Ritz. I believe that Superintendent Ritz was sincere when she ran for office about her vision to imagine possibilities and make them happen.

 

But instead of celebrating our achievements as a State and imagining new possibilities, some have allowed emotions and political strategy to trump objectivity and productivity. As with any change in leadership, there is always an opportunity for new direction. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about building support for the change being sought after. If Superintendent Ritz is serious about working to find a way forward, then she needs to build relationships that honor bipartisan cooperation (something not typically achieved through litigation). For the current situation to improve, there must be a recognition of the statutory obligations of the State Board and a desire to leverage the collective strengths of each Board member to achieve her vision.

 

Over my 20+ years in education (many of those as a leader), I have always taken pride in helping people find win-win solutions to some very complex problems. I have always respected opposing points of view and I have viewed diversity of thought as a strength, not a threat. The last few days have been incredibly difficult to watch for everyone who is passionate about our profession. I remain committed to do all I can as a State Board member to help us find a way forward, but we will not succeed in resolving this current impasse unless leadership rises above positional levels of authority. Let’s not squander the educational improvements taking place in our State. We have much to celebrate! Let’s honor the resilience of our system of education by working collaboratively to keep what is working and fix what is not. And most importantly, let’s honor and respect each other so we can model for the very children we serve how to be a democratic learning community.

 

Dr. Brad E. Oliver

SBOE Member, 6th Congressional District

Muncie, Indiana

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