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Committee To Discuss Education Power Struggle Thursday

Josh Davis

The state House of Representatives is considering a bill that addresses the role the State Board of Education and Department of Education play in making education decisions. 

House Bill 1486 would shift education responsibilities from the Department of Education, headed by state superintendent Ritz, to the State Board of Education, which is made up of appointees from Governor Pence and former governor Mitch Daniels.

Democrats on the House Education Committee called the move another tactic for Republicans to undermine Ritz’s authority -- a claim state board member Brad Oliver disagreed with.

“I would also ask that as you look at it you would see what we’re asking for as well is language that will help resource the board to do the very things that you’ve asked us to do," Oliver says.

But Indiana State Teachers Association representative John O’Neal said the changes would remove the DOE as the head of education policy in the state.

“I don’t know how anyone could read this bill as something other than a transfer of authority," O'Neal says. "It does relegate the DOE to a sort of administrative role.”

The committee is scheduled to discuss the bill again Thursday.