Thursday, October 24, 2013

Message from Teresa Meredith

Since her stunning election last November, ISTA has witnessed a growing and rarely subtle display of disrespect for Glenda Ritz' authority as Indiana's duly-elected Chief State School Officer from the governor-appointed members of the State Board of Education--the board that she is by law called upon to chair.

Those who have been around state government for decades have never witnessed anything quite like the "group dismissiveness" that she has faced from the balance of the appointed board--those who should have "gotten over it" a long time ago and become her colleagues in Indiana's education policy-making.

ISTA has watched Glenda Ritz be a model of patience and professionalism while trying to fulfill her twin roles as State Superintendent of Public Instruction and statutory chairperson of the State Board of Education.

You name it, she's faced it: Springing surprise resolutions at board meetings diminishing her authority, creating "shadow" policy-making committees chaired by someone other than her with calculated odds stacked against her, wasting taxpayer resources to essentially duplicate the work of the DOE by hiring lawyers, special assistants, and executive directors, being told with a straight face that blatantly Republican members of the board are independent, and inheriting an A-F school accountability system that needed to be overhauled from the ground up.

And so now, faced with yet another bit of "medicine" meted out by this board with which she's been dealt, while she was out of the country on business no less, Glenda responded--leveraging the very laws that she swore to uphold. And, yes, now, people are watching.....and supporting her all over again.

It is hoped that her action will better encourage and ultimately lead to increased transparency in government and education policy-making...and it is further hoped that the balance of Indiana's state board might take a moment to exhale and resolve to try to work with Glenda. Doubtful as that may be, wouldn't it be a mighty nice example of adult behavior modeling by which Hoosier children might benefit?

And yes, now, people are watching...and supporting her all over again.

-Teresa Meredith, ISTA President

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ritz Files Suit Against State BOE

Status Update
By Indiana State Teachers Association
October 22, 2013

Contact: Daniel Altman
Office: (317) 232-0550
Cell: (317) 650-8698


INDIANAPOLIS – In response to apparent violations of the Open Door Law by members of the State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz filed suit today naming ten members of the Board as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that the named members of the State Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law by taking action in secret by drafting, or directing the drafting of, a letter they sent to President Pro Tempore Long and Speaker Bosma dated October 16, 2013. The suit seeks to prevent the State Board of Education from continued violations of the Open Door Law and declaratory relief.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that ten members of the State Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law when they took action by requesting that Senator Long and Speaker Bosma appoint Indiana’s Legislative Services Agency to perform calculations to determine the 2012-2013 A-F grades for Indiana schools. The suit alleges that no public notice was issued for a meeting that allowed for this action and that Superintendent Ritz was not made aware of this action until after it was taken, despite her role as Chair of the State Board of Education.

“When I was sworn in to office, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Indiana,” said Superintendent Ritz. “I take this oath very seriously and I was dismayed to learn that other members of the State Board have not complied with the requirements of the law. While I respect the commitment and expertise of members of the board individually, I feel they have over-stepped their bounds.

“Since my inauguration, I have worked tirelessly to communicate openly with the Board and the public. I do not take this action lightly, but my obligations as elected state Superintendent require it. I look forward to continuing to work to improve education for all Indiana students in a fair, transparent and collaborative manner.”

The suit is Ritz v. Elsener, et al and it has been filed in the Marion Circuit Court. The cause number is 49C01-1310-PL-038953. The Department of Education is using in-house counsel to avoid any additional costs to the state.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Course Change on Annuity Accounts

October 21, 2013

Dear ISTA Members,

We want you to know that today's meeting of the Pension Management and Oversight Commission (PMOC) went well. Much of what happened today is the direct response to your thoughtful communications with members of the Commission.

Today, PMOC members sent a unanimous message about the direction it supports - not to privatize this annuity work but, instead, to find a better balance between what INPRS believes it needs and the needs of its members.

Today's motion from the Commission's final report reads:
  1. The Commission considered the four proposals considered by the INPRS Board regarding the issuance of annuities to retirees for their ASAs.
  2. The Commission recommends that INPRS pursue an option that would keep the annuitization of ASAs in-house and to not proceed with a 3rd party contract. Instead INPRS should periodically establish an interest rate that will not create an unfunded liability in their managed funds.
  3. The Commission recommends the General Assembly not set a statutory interest rate at this time.
  4. The Commission recommends that the date to undertake these activities occur not earlier than October 1, 2014.
Basically, the recommendation calls for NO PRIVATIZATION and that INPRS continue to annuitize in-house in a way that will not create an imbalance between what INPRS promises and what it can earn in investments.

This is a "non-binding" recommendation, but carries weight inasmuch as PMOC oversees the work of INPRS. INPRS will meet this Friday and it is hoped that INPRS will take new action to reflect PMOC's recommendations.

The reason for the Oct. 1, 2014 implementation date is to ensure that school employees interested in retiring next summer can do so under the current retirement system.

ISTA will continue to work to make positive impacts on behalf of members. Please stay tuned. We will keep you informed.

Please take time to thank Sen. Karen Tallian for her leadership on this issue and for offering her motion. Also, take time to thank the other legislative members of PMOC for voting for it.

Chairperson: Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville):
Sen. Gregory Walker (R-Columbus);
Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage);
Sen. Lindel Hume (D-Princeton);
Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton);
Rep. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland);
Rep. Chuck Moseley (D-Portage);
Rep. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend);

ISTA knows this is a high-interest topic and will continue to hold its retirement workshops around the state as originally scheduled.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Fall Message to Members

ISTA's Teresa Meredith message to members...

Questions for Teresa: 1-800-382-4037