Thursday, February 21, 2013

House Pushes Anti-Teacher, Anti-Ritz, Pro-Political Agenda

The Statehouse is a House of Horrors for Teachers, Ritz
Since the start of the year, it seemed like the gloves were about to come off between teachers and the Indiana House Republicans.  Today, it's on.

Republicans, led by House Education Chair Bob Behning, are targeting the power of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz.  Of course, Ritz is the only Democrat to hold one of the state executive offices.  She also received over a million votes in the 2012 election.  That doesn't seem to matter to the House Republicans.  Three bills are currently circulating the Indiana House that would strip Ritz of important powers and duties her predecessor had and undercut teachers' associations across Indiana.

According to the Indianapolis Star, House Bill 1342 would remove Ritz as the administrator of the state's school voucher program and place it under the Office of Management and Budget under Governor Mike Pence.  House Bill 1337, according to the Star, would put the task of making changes to the A to F system of evaluating schools under the State Board of Education and the Education Roundtable.  This would totally circumvent Ritz and the Department of Education.  Finally, there is the direct assault on teachers under the guise of House Bill 1334.  This bill, according to the Star report, would ban the practice of school districts collecting union dues directly from paychecks.

These are all hostile and direct attacks without any cause on not only Superintendent Ritz and teachers but Indiana voters.  Indiana voters voted for a change in a down ballot 2012 race electing Glenda Ritz and sending Tony Bennett out of office.  That didn't just happen.

While things look bleak in the House, the Senate Education Committee Chair Dennis Kruse has gone on record saying that Ritz should keep her power, as reported by WISH-TV yesterday and several other outlets last month when Kruse said it.

If I were the Republicans in the Indiana House, I would remember what happened to Tony Bennett.  While he landed on his feet in California Florida (I knew that, duh), his policies were widely repudiated by millions of Hoosiers at the ballot box.  For out-of-power House members, no $300,000 a year jobs are waiting in another state.

Furthermore, the bill ending the collection of union dues is simply a direct slap in the face of Indiana teachers.  There's no reason, no need, and no problem on this.  To get union dues taken out of one's check, that teacher has to sign off before it happens.  It's a voluntary system.  This just makes it a little less easy to have teachers join a union.

All of these moves are political.  It's stick it to the teachers and stick it to the Democrats time in the Indiana House.  The opening round is underway.


Bradley said...

Small point, but Bennett's going to Florida, not California. Either way, he'll be able to keep his nice tan -- and I hope he never comes back.

I'm not surprised at all by some of the House's actions (although looks like Ritz is doing just fine and making her way). My Dad, a rare breed of a fiscal conservative and a guy who is very familiar with Indiana's school systems, warned the next day after the election that it made no sense to vote in Ritz and then leave her helpless by voting for Pence and huge majorities in both houses. He was absolutely correct. Unfortunately as far as I'm concerned, voters (including teachers and their families) will just have to suffer through the inevitable because poor choices were made at the ballot box in November.

The Democrat Party at the state level really dropped the ball by not hitching more people to Ritz's movement while she was running. I have no doubt, however, that Ritz will fight the good fight. Let's hope voters will help her some in 2014, if it's not too late.

Paul K. Ogden said...

A Superintendent of Public Instruction, no matter how popular, isn't going to have coattails that you can hitch other candidates to. The D's did a magnificent job of elevating the race above being a baseline race. You can't ask for anything more than they accomplished with that race.

kris said...

chickens always come home to roost. just ask any politician who's been voted out because of crappy legislation they authored/sponsored/voted for.

Bradley said...

True to some degree, Paul, but you miss my broader point in that, if those who voted for Ritz had voted for Gregg instead and less Republicans in the Gen'l Ass'by, Ritz would have more folks better suited to help what she would like to get done instead of slowly dissolving her office.

I'm not sure how much the Ds actually had in elevating the race for Ritz -- was it the Ds or was it Ritz and her grassroots supporters who elevated her?