The Indiana Chamber of Commerce wants to have the Superintendent of Public Instruction be an appointed position instead of an elected position. The current officeholder, Glenda Ritz, received 1,332,775 votes from the citizens of Indiana. By contrast, Gov. Pence received 1,275,424 votes. (Our incoming Secretary, Treasurer, and Auditor of state all received somewhat less than 800,000 votes.) Superintendent Crouch received that convincing vote total in a surprise upset of the previous occupant, Tony Bennet. If someone like Mr. Bennett had been appointed rather than elected, the citizens of Indiana never would have had the opportunity to give him the bounce, regardless of how strong the sentiment was.
The Chamber has apparently been on the side of making the position appointed for some time. I can’t say that their reasoning is simply sour grapes because Bennett couldn’t hang on to the job. However, in some quarters, the ostensible reason for legislating Ritz out of a re-election bid is because the discord between her and Gov. Pence’s appointees on the State Board of Education is unseemly. Reducing the Governor’s influence in Board composition doesn’t seem to be under consideration. For example – just off the top of my head – maybe it would be a good idea to group school districts into regions and have a number of regional representatives on the school board.
Also, just by the way, it seems at least slightly odd for the Chamber of Commerce to be having a significant influence (if they do) on educational policy. Maybe a little like having the rail roads weigh in on highway policy. Sure, the railroads rely on the highways for various things, but maybe they wouldn’t design the system in a way that was best for all of us.