INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A new critique of Indiana’s efforts to maintain its exemptions from the No
Child Left Behind requirements, written by top staff to Gov. Mike Pence, is
widening a rift between state education leaders as federal officials near a
decision on the waiver.
The tersely worded
memo from Pence’s Center for Education and Career Innovation dissects and
criticizes the waiver submission by Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda
Ritz piece by piece, down to grammatical errors. CECI executive director
Claire Fiddian-Green also said Wednesday that the Ritz team made key changes
in the waiver without consulting the State Board of Education.
will decide whether Indiana keeps its waiver, which plays a critical role in
determining how much say the state will have in how millions of federal
Title I dollars are spent. An answer could come as early as Thursday.
education policy analyst with the New America Foundation in Washington, said
the memo just stokes concerns already raised by U.S. Education Secretary
Arne Duncan, who expressed dismay over Indiana’s “deep dysfunction” earlier
“I think this
28-page memo doesn’t help the state’s chances. It’s really demonstrating
this dysfunction that Secretary Duncan was worried about 8 months ago,”
Hyslop said. “If they can find a way to work together, or at least fight not
so publicly, that would help smooth the way.”
Still, Hyslop added
that federal officials generally want states to keep their waivers and said
Indiana could possibly keep its waiver while being placed on watch by the
Both Ritz and Pence
have said they want to see the state maintain its waiver. Federal officials
alerted the state in late April that its waiver was in jeopardy because of
problems monitoring low-performing schools, they also cited impacts from the
state’s decision to ditch national Common Core education standards.
Washington state is
the only state to have received a waiver and then lost it.
also serves as Pence’s top education adviser, said she discovered many
instances where Ritz’s staff was making crucial policy decisions inside the
federal waiver, effectively going around the State Board of Education board.
She also added:
“The status of our waiver was a direct result of the implementation concerns
as of the August visit. So any threat to the status of our waiver really has
to do with implementation concerns that the U.S. Department of Education had
identified as of August of last year,” she said.
The critique, which
was drafted by CECI staff, was not requested by any members of the State
Board of Education. Fiddian-Green defended the memo, saying CECI staff
members, who also work for the Board of Education, are expected to provide
analysis and don’t have to be asked by board member to do so.
“I’m uncertain what
impact it has,” said Ritz spokesman David Galvin. He noted that Pence’s
staff was included on the phone calls held with federal officials in May and
June and that these concerns were not raised then.
Galvin said Pence
created the department to “interfere” with Ritz’s work.
spokeswoman did not return requests for comment Wednesday on what effect, if
any, the critique will have on the state’s request.
The report often
focuses on policy disagreements, but at times questions the ability of
Department of Education staff to do basic tasks.
“The breadth and
depth of monitoring, oversight and technical assistance duties required of
the 13 outreach coordinators raises questions regarding the capacity of
these individuals to perform such important work in support of all Indiana
districts and schools,” the CECI staff wrote of the DOE staff charged with
monitoring low-performing schools.