By: Jamie Collins
Some days an Indiana blogger has to say what she must.
This is one of those days…
(Or at least it did in the past).
On November 6, 2012, more than 1.3 million voters showed up at polls all across the State of Indiana to cast ballots and elect Glenda Ritz as the Superintendent of Public Instruction of our state. The elected official serving in this position has always been in charge of education, and served as the chair of the State Board of Education in Indiana—in charge of the board in that role—for more than one hundred years. Since 1913, to be precise. When voters elected Ritz in 2012, it was clearly their intent for her to be in charge of education in Indiana and run the board, as dictated by 102 years of history.
On April 7, 2015, the Republican majority Senate passed Senate Bill 1 to essentially strip Ritz, a Democrat, of her powers, and reassign her seat as the chair of the State Board of Education.
I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat—American citizens vote for a reason. Whether you like Glenda Ritz or hate Glenda Ritz matters not. And whether you like Mike Pence or loathe Mike Pence is also irrelevant. When Indiana voters took to the polls in November of 2012, they elected Glenda Ritz to lead education in Indiana. She was to be our state’s champion, for better or worse, as elected—that was the job. Whether the governor or other individuals on the board like or dislike her, agree or disagree with her political positions, or find her difficult to work with does not matter in the slightest. It’s their job to work with her.
Even if she does not agree with them.
Even if they don’t see eye to eye on many things.
Even if they would prefer not to work with her another day.
Put simply, it’s their JOB to do so. It now appears that the 1.3 million voters who cast votes in 2012 were only pretending to vote someone into office, completely unbeknownst to them.
Glenda Ritz deserves (and has earned) the opportunity to maintain the powers given to her through the election; the day 1.3 million people cast their votes to elect her into her current role. Why? Because it’s her job—and last I checked, this is a democracy, not a place where politicians get to oust elected officials from office, and strip them of their legislative powers for political gain. Glenda Ritz is doing exactly what voters elected her to do; what she believes to be right in her role as superintendent of Indiana’s schools—fighting the good fight for education in Indiana, even when it isn’t popular, and even when it may not suit the agenda of those around her.
To allow this bill to strip Ritz of her powers as Indiana’s Superintendent of Education and all that role has entailed for the past 102 years, in the middle of her term, is unconscionable. It’s like telling Indiana voters they got it wrong. And telling Indiana voters their votes do not matter—the politicians will do as they please.
Whether you love Ritz or hate Ritz, there is so much more at stake than just her seat as the chair of the Board and her ability to do her job. The core of democracy in our state is at issue, so is the integrity of our political system, and future.
When we elect an official—we elect an official.
And you get to work with him or her.
It’s your job.
Plain and simple.
(At least it used to be…)
#INvoted4Ritz– Follow the hashtag, share on social media, join the movement. Make your voice heard.
Click here to send a message to tell legislators to stop this attack on Ritz.
Jamie Collins is a litigation paralegal, legal columnist, and one of the leading paralegal bloggers in the country. She resides in Indianapolis with her husband and young son.