|43rd Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction|
January 19, 2013
|Preceded by||Tony Bennett|
|Born||Glenda Sue Neubauer
1954 (age 60–61)
|Political party||Democratic 2008-present
Republican until 2008
|Children||Brandon Ritz & Philip Ritz|
|Education||Ball State University
Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis
|Alma mater||Jefferson High School (Indiana)|
|Occupation||Educator; School library media specialist|
|Awards||Teacher of the Year|
Glenda Ritz (born 1954) is the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Indiana. She was elected November 6, 2012, defeating incumbent Superintendent Dr. Tony Bennett in an upset election, and she took office with a state government dominated by Republicans who opposed her agenda and could block it. Among Indiana Democrats, she held the highest elected office in state government during her term of office. She is the first Democrat to serve in the office in 40 years and the first Democrat to win any down ballot race in the state since 1996.
Early life and education
Glenda Sue Neubauer was born in Lafayette, Indiana, to Mr. and Mrs. James L. Neubauer. She graduated with the class of '72 at Jefferson High School. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Ball State University, and received a second master's degree in library science from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. She has been married to Gary Ritz of Pendleton, Indiana, since 1977, and he is a partner at Paragus, which operates in real estate development, construction and property management. The couple resides in Carmel, Indiana, and has two adult sons, named Brandon and Philip.
Before her statewide political career, Ritz was an educator and library media specialist for 33 years, and her last position was at the Crooked Creek Elementary School in Metropolitan School District of Washington Township. She won teacher of the year awards at two different schools, and in 2012 she was one of 155 nationally board certified teachers in the state of Indiana. She served as a member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a board member of the Indiana State Teachers Association and president of the Washington Township local ISTA union, and president of the Washington Township Education Association for 15 years.
State superintendent, 2012
Originally a registered Republican, Glenda Ritz switched party registration in 2008 and ran as the Democratic nominee against first-term incumbent Tony Bennett to become the next Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012. Ritz was seen as an underdog with Bennett enjoying a substantial fundraising advantage and support of many prominent Republican officials. She called the election a "referendum" on Bennett's reforms during his first term in office, which included grading schools A-F, closing failed schools, merit pay, employing standardized test results as a form of teacher evaluation, using pass-fail standardized reading tests, supporting Common Core, developing charter schools, and giving out vouchers that could be used at private schools. A member of the ISTA, Ritz had solid support from teachers and used that network and social media to expand her base. She was endorsed by Democratic gubernatorial candidate John R. Gregg. Bennett won the counties around Marion County, but Ritz took the larger Marion and Madison counties by a landslide. Ritz won the election in an upset, capturing 52 percent of the vote. Newly elected Governor Mike Pence received fewer votes than Ritz in the general election.
Term of office
Ritz took office on January 19, 2013. As a member of the ISTA, she signed on to the 2011 court case against vouchers, but after her election in 2012, she removed her name so as not to have a conflict of interest in the case when she took office. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled unanimously in March 2013 that the vouchers were constitutional. In one of his first acts as Governor, Mike Pence removed Ritz from control of the Educational Employment Relations Board, which is in charge of handling conflicts between unions and school boards. As Ritz assumed the chair of the Indiana State Board of Education, she clashed with politically-appointed members. In 2013, the Republican-controlled legislature budgeted and Governor Pence used his executive authority to create the Center for Education and Career Innovation, which duplicated some of the Superintendent's staff work for state board. CECI initiated a plan to remove Ritz from the state board by removing the superintendent from the chair position. In 2014, Indiana became the first state to pull out of the Common Core standards with the support of the state legislature, Gov. Pence, and endorsed by Ritz and the legislature authorized Ritz to oversee the development of new standards. Pence and Ritz were able to agree on the new standards. New tests were created for those standards and also the federally mandated standards pushed by Pence, which resulted in 12-hours of standardized testing. Controversy developed over who was responsible for length of the testing time with the Governor of Indiana blaming Ritz and Ritz responding that it was due to Pence's demand that the federally mandated standards be included. Pence ordered the tests halved but did not have the authority. The House agreed to reduce the test by a fourth and the Indiana Department of Education implemented the changes. In 2014, Ritz also opposed the Republicans push to created a fast track for teacher certification saying that the standards for licensing should be kept rigorous. This was passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Pence. On January 29, 2015, Indiana's House Education Committee voted in favor of allowing the State Board of Education to elect its own chair rather than be headed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Ritz has refused to speculate if she will remain chair but expressed that the electorate gave her a mandate to do that job. Ritz made a short statement at the debate:
"The Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction has held the position of chair of the State Board of Education for over 100 years. Indiana chose to have its highest-ranking elected authority on education be the chair and the 2012 elected Superintendent should be afforded this role."
In the Senate, Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) explained her removal by saying, "In all fairness, Superintendent Ritz was a librarian, okay?” and other Republican senators questioning her credentials to be state superintendent. Gov. Pence signed the legislation authorizing the state board to elect its chair and taking effect in 2017.
Glenda Ritz launched her gubernatorial race on June 4, 2015, following the announcements of John Gregg and Karen Tallian. At her announcement, Ritz said that education and the economy would be the centerpiece of her campaign platform. While reaching out to potential supporters, she was rebuffed by at least one Democrat and labor representative, David Frye, because her husband's company, Pegasus, is a non-union construction company, although labor supported her previously. Ritz is expected to get the support of the ISTA, which is the teachers' union.
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- Rich, Motoko (March 26, 2013). "Indiana: Voucher Program Ruled Constitutional". New York Times.
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- Strauss, Valerie (February 23, 2015). "Indiana Superintendent of the Year: Parents should homeschool kids during testing week". Washington Post.
- Gherardi, James (February 23, 2015). "Gov. Pence signs bill unanimously approved by House, Senate to shorten ISTEP+ test". fox59.com.
- Shella, Jim (February 23, 2015). "Ritz blames Pence for ISTEP problems". wishtv.com.
- Krauser, Mike (September 5, 2014). "Indiana approves controversial career specialist teaching permit/". CBS Chicago.
- The Associated Press (January 29, 2015). "Panel Backs Allowing Removal of Ritz as State Board Leader". WTHR.
- Weddle, Eric (February 12, 2015). "Interview: State Superintendent Glenda Ritz". WFYI-FM.
- Shella, Jim (February 5, 2015). "Sen. Long calls Glenda Ritz “a librarian”". WISH-TV.
- McInerny, Claire (May 8, 2015). "Pence Signs Bill Changing State Board Of Education Makeup". indianapublicmedia.org.
- Cook, Tony (June 4, 2015). "Ritz, Gregg bids for governor: 'Will it be a nasty split?'". Indianapolis Star.