Tag Archives: State Board of Education

Pence Offers Assistance to Resolve Board of Education Issues

16 Nov

Gazette Staff

Governor Mike Pence sent the following letter to members of the State Board of Education attempting to resolve the conflict among the members. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a member of the Board, recently sued other members of the Board alleging violations of Indiana’s Open Door Law. The lawsuit was later dismissed.

Dear Superintendent Ritz and Members of the State Board of Education:

Let me begin by thanking all of you for your commitment to serving the children of our state through your service on the State Board of Education. Hoosiers are fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated group working on their behalf.

I commend you for the progress you’ve made this year. Most recently I am grateful for your work in committing to a timetable for completion of the 2012-2013 A-F grades, in reaching consensus on the next steps to revise our A-F model, and in passing emergency rules to enable Choice Scholarship schools to serve students who qualify for special education.

Despite this strong progress, I am aware that the Board has had difficulties in working together, and I am writing to offer my Administration’s assistance in finding a solution.

As you are aware, Indiana is a member of the nonprofit National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and assure continued citizen support for public education. The organization has a national perspective on the work of state boards of education, has expertise in best practices and has provided consulting regarding governance of state boards across the nation.

I am writing to inform you that I have reached out to NASBE, and they have agreed to facilitate a discussion within the Indiana State Board of Education to clarify its roles and responsibilities and reach a common understanding regarding the governance procedures. Our Administration is prepared to provide any and all resources and assistance needed to coordinate this process, and I hope the Board will consider this sincere offer to engage NASBE in resolving these present difficulties.

I know you share my belief that it is of the utmost importance to Indiana’s schoolchildren that the differences that have emerged between the Superintendent and the other members of the Board be resolved in a civil and respectful way to restore a spirit of cooperation and trust. The Board has an opportunity to do so in engaging NASBE, which has extensive national experience with state boards of education, governance matters and education issues.

Hoosiers are indebted to each of you for your work on the State Board of Education. On behalf of every student, parent, teacher, and administrator in Indiana, I offer my heartfelt appreciation for the hours that you give to this effort. I am confident that, with this assistance, you will be able to resolve your differences quickly and build on the progress that Indiana has made in educational achievement.

Because of your work test scores are up, graduation rates are up, and the future of education and our young people has never been brighter.

I look forward to your reply regarding this proposal to engage the National Association of State Boards of Education to assist the Indiana State Board of Education in moving forward for the good of all Hoosiers and stand ready to offer any and all assistance in making this happen in a timely manner.


Michael R. Pence
Governor of Indiana

the northwest indiana gazette

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