While the camel’s back might be slowly bending over time from the weight of a burden, it’s always the straw that seems to get the spotlight.
And when it comes to the State Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz’ abrupt dismissal of a State Board of Education meeting this week, it’s again the straw basking in the glow of the camera’s flash. While the explosion of Ritz’ back breaking makes good headlines, it’s the ongoing political mess that should bear the brunt of the flash bulbs. After all, that’s what’s been loading up the camel’s back for months now.
The straw was a discussion about moving oversight of career readiness programs to an agency controlled by Gov. Mike Pence. To be more precise, the straw was the latest attempt to usurp Ritz of power over education in the state of Indiana.
It’s a battle many predicted in November last year the Democrat would face after her stunning victory over incumbent Republican Tony Bennett. We think many elected leaders in Indiana continue to miss the most important part of the previous sentence. The operative word is victory.
She pulled off a low-cost, high-impact campaign with less than one-fifth of the money that Bennett had raised. She won because a grassroots effort swelled up under her feet. It was an effort fueled by teachers who felt disrespected in the ongoing education reform in Indiana.
The voters said they didn’t like what was happening with the massive education overhaul that Bennett championed with the backing of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and the GOP-controlled Legislature.
They were unhappy with the direction and they made themselves heard. No one was listening at the time because higher profile races for a U.S. Senate seat and the governor’s office captivated the headlines. And it seems no one is listening now either.