Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Education Board Gives Hard Lesson to Ritz ; CAPITOL BUREAU

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Education Board Gives Hard Lesson to Ritz ; CAPITOL BUREAU

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Glenda Ritz won November's election, but score December's head-to-head matchup in Tony Bennett's favor - and consider it a sign of what's to come. The Indiana Board of Education ignored the pleas of the incoming Democratic state superintendent of public instruction to wait a little longer on new teacher licensing rules, instead siding with Bennett in a 9-2 vote during a meeting last week.

The vote was a clear indication that board members - 10 of whom were appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Bennett ally and admirer - intend to protect the changes the hard-charging Republican education reformer won.

For Ritz, the Democrat whose Election-Night victory was the only blow Republicans felt in a Statehouse where they hold all other offices as well as supermajorities in the House and the Senate, the vote was disappointing.

More troubling for her, though, had to be how the meeting played out.

In its opening minutes, Bennett welcomed Ritz and gave her a chance to address the board. She used that opportunity to urge a delay on what's called "REPA II," a set of changes that ease the transition from other fields into teaching.

Then, board member Jo Blacketor responded by saying she wasn't impressed by Ritz's argument, nor was she swayed by Ritz's Election- Night victory.

"While there was 1.3 million votes, there are 4 million who did not vote who are registered, and there are many, many, many children we're representing," Blacketor said. "So it is our responsibility to act every time we have the opportunity. Every minute we waste is hurting a child, and that's just how I feel."

Neil Pickett, another board member who worked as Daniels' senior policy adviser, responded after Ritz's comments by quoting Daniels.

He drew from words in a new book that the governor just published containing all of his speeches - including the one he wrote in 2008 in the event that his re-election bid failed, but that he never had to give. …

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