INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz submitted Indiana’s request
for a new waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirements on Monday in the
hopes that the state can avoid losing control of how some of its federal
education money is spent.
The filing beat a
deadline set by U.S. Department of Education officials for the state to
submit a new waiver that addresses concerns raised by federal monitors. At
stake is control over a portion of the more than $200 million in federal
“Title I” education funding that Indiana receives each year.
Staff from the Ritz
administration, Gov. Mike Pence’s education and jobs agency, the General
Assembly and the U.S. Department of Education worked intensely over the past
two months to craft the new application.
“Because of their
work, I believe that Hoosier schools will have much needed flexibility over
how they use some of their federal funding. Most importantly, this
flexibility will improve education for our students,” Ritz said in a
told Ritz in April that problems with the state’s monitoring of
low-performing schools had placed the state’s waiver in jeopardy. They also
expressed concerns about the state’s teacher and principal evaluation
system, which yielded surprisingly few poor reviews earlier this year and
raised doubts among conservative education advocates who sought the changes.
Ritz staff members
said they were promised a response by the end of July, but did not say if
that is a hard and fast deadline. The federal review of the state was
completed last August and Ritz’s staff said they were promised a response in
the fall, but did not receive the state’s review until many months later.
The decision came
shortly after Indiana became the first state to exit the national Common
Core education standards, but federal officials said they were fine with the
alternative education standards the state developed.
As a part of the
negotiations over the new waiver, federal officials said that this fall the
state would have to begin using a new statewide standardized test, written
to the education rules replacing the Common Core standards. A new, second
test will be used in the following school year, crafted more closely to the
state’s new standards.
The crafting of the
state’s new waiver also ended a period of relative calm at the State Board
of Education, which has been home to the most visible political battles
between supporters of Ritz and supporters of the education changes pushed by
former Republican Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett.
Tensions were high
at a special meeting last week that was called to review the state’s waiver
request. Ritz who chairs the board, scrapped with Republican board members
Brad Oliver and Dan Elsener over whether she had been open enough with the
squabbling does not appear to be reaching levels like last year, however.
Ritz’s failed lawsuit accusing the state’s board members of violating the
state’s public access laws spurred U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to
quip on the “dysfunction” from the state’s education leaders.
Democratic elections lawyer Bill Groth refiled the suit in Marion County
last December. The case is still pending.