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Having The State Education Board Chair Elected By The Board Is Not Unusual

Indiana one of only two states where State Superintendent automatically chairs the board
Supporters of the state school superintendent oppose Governor Pence's plan that could remove her as chair of the State Board of Education.  But Indiana is one of only two states in which the two positions are connected.
 
It has long been state law for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz's official title, to automatically chair the State Board of Education.  But Indiana and Oklahoma are the only two states in which one of those positions lead to the other. "The most common approach is to have the members of the Board of Education choose their chair, and the second most common is for the governor to choose the chair," said David Orentlicher, professor at IU's McKinney School of Law.  
 
Governor Pence said last week that part of his education agenda would include changing the law to where the board chose its own chair.  If that happened next year, Ritz would likely be replaced given her tenuous relationship with most members of the board, even those who are Democrats like her.  The board is bipartisan by law, but all its members have been appointed by Republican governors, and many of the Democrats on the board favor policies opposed by Ritz and the Indiana State Teachers Association, whose support helped push Ritz to an upset of Republican superintendent Tony Bennett in the 2012 election.  Orentlicher says Ritz and her backers will likely argue that she should continue to chair the board because that's what voters wanted.  "Indiana gives most of the responsibility for this to the voters.  What you see in the other states is that the responsibility is largely given to the governor, so voters in those states have more indirect control of education policy."
 
Though a change would put Indiana in line with most states, Orentlicher doesn't think the public would look kindly on an immediate change in Ritz's status.  "When the voters went to the polls (in 2012), they thought they were electing the chair of the board of education," Orentlicher said. "If you are going to make this kind of change, you should do it for the next election."  Pence has not said when he would like to see the change take place. Kara Brooks, Pence's press secretary, says that hasn't been determined, as a bill has not been written.
 
 

Description: 

Supporters of the state school superintendent oppose Governor Pence's plan that could remove her as chair of the State Board of Education. But Indiana is one of only two states in which the two positions are connected.

 
 
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