Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

November 19, 2013

Superintendent Ritz visits Brookville

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — BROOKVILLE – Glenda Ritz, state superintendent of public instruction, discussed some of the current issues facing education Nov. 13 at the Schilling Center, Brookville.

“Serving students in the classroom is so important to me,” she said, after receiving a standing ovation from attendees, who were mostly area educators.

“The vision of my administration is ‘Imagining the Possibilities. Making them Happen’ .... (and) the Department of Education’s mission is to build an education system of equity and high quality focused on student-centered accountability.”

In order to create equitable and high-quality opportunities for all students, she created the Outreach Division of School Improvement. “I have 13 coordinators throughout Indiana .... They had 12 very extensive days of training.

“My outreach people needed to know where to find resources for students, so United Way was one of our partners. People in this organization are good at matching people with resources .... It takes community support to make sure kids get what they need.”

She discussed the Hoosier Family of Readers, which is “making sure kids know they should be reading outside of school. Literacy is so important, and we empowered many organizations statewide to help. All the YMCAs included reading activities for their summer camps and groups like Boys & Girls Clubs of America also focused on reading.

“It’s amazing the number of tutoring groups that work with children. Not too long ago, a National Guard soldier walked into my office. He was part of a group that was working with third-graders in Fort Wayne. He was wondering if he could incorporate that in other areas of the state. Now we have soldiers working in 30 more schools, 60 total, through the Books and Boots program, where they come into classrooms and work with little ones to make sure they’re reading.”

Ritz said, “Whether a student is leaving high school to get employment or attend a two- or four-year college, they need the same level of proficiency, but kids also need to see relevancy to their education .... Kids these days are taking 40 credits and don’t have a pathway.

“For example, let’s take a kid who’s really interested in clay and wants to be a potter. He’s dead set on doing that. We should work with that kid to be an entrepreneur and see that he needs math, Web design and business classes.”

She added, “I hope we’re going to get to the point where we have growth-level assessments .... I want all kids to be working at their level and going where they need to be.”

Ritz was questioned about her progress at the state level. She stressed, “I thought things were going along as well as they could until the governor formed his new agency,” the Center for Education and Career Innovation. “It’s an agency overseeing my agency, and it is interfering with my relationship with the board .... We’re spending tax dollars duplicating services.

“He (Gov. Mike Pence) says the CECI staff is going to oversee the standards review, but in statute, they can’t. I won’t have us violating law to conduct business.”

In closing, the superintendent emphasized, “You need to be talking about education everywhere. Talk to anybody and everybody .... Imagine the possibilities and make them happen!”

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.