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Education leaders raise voices, fight over Indiana’s schools

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INDIANAPOLIS — Long hours of education meetings Monday led to open fighting between the State Superintendent and Board of Education members once again.

The state is down to the wire in replying to a threat from the federal government that could jeopardize millions in funding to schools.

Federal officials placed Indiana’s No Child Left Behind waiver on conditional status earlier this year, saying the state has not met a number of parameters in outlining its overall education plan.

It seemed that pressure caused tensions to bubble up to the surface once again, as Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Board of Education member Brad Oliver openly fought during an emergency meeting to review the waiver response.

“I am concerned about it because of the lack of information, the lack of transparency,” Oliver said.

“Brad, I am totally committed to this waiver. I live and breathe this waiver,” Ritz said.

The state must respond to the federal government by June 30. That includes a plan to replace the ISTEP test.

Earlier in the day, Education Roundtable members, including Governor Mike Pence, recommended the state revise the current ISTEP test for the upcoming school year and commission an entirely new test for the 2015-2016 school year.

Even that meeting, though, led to disagreement between Ritz and Pence over how to revise the test.

“The state of Indiana, parents, teachers, are all looking for us to work together and for us to be faced with a situation in which we have to take sides, I think is unforgivable and certainly there’s no place for it,” Roundtable member and State Senator Earline Rogers said.

The State Board of Education meeting led to no decisions, instead the Department of Education provided an update and said it is working to reply to every federal question by the June 30 deadline.

You can submit public comment on the waiver response until Noon this Tuesday, June 24. Go to the link here.