If Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to dissolve the Center for Education and Career Innovation sets the tone for more compromise and cooperation in education policies and goals, Indiana’s future will be brighter.
Upon hearing the news Thursday of the dissolution of CECI, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said, “The governor’s action is yet another sign of the great work that is happening in our schools throughout Indiana and the Department of Education every day. I want to thank the governor for taking this step.”
Set to dissolve on or before Feb. 20, CECI accomplished much, according to Pence.
“We launched the Center for Education and Career Innovation to advance learning outcomes for Hoosier students and adult workers, and they have done that,” he said Thursday. “Unfortunately, for all the good work the talented staff at CECI has done, controversy surrounds the agency, so in the interest of restoring harmony and trust in education I am dissolving the center and working through other avenues to continue aligning statewide efforts in education and workforce development so Indiana can prosper.”
According to the statement released by Pence, CECI accomplishments in the past 18 months include the completion of the Career Council’s strategic plan and establishment of 11 regional Works Councils, which are working with more than 200 education and business leaders across the state.
He said CECI has distributed $3 million in innovative curriculum grants to 18 new work-to-learn programs engaging 1,700 students in key business sectors. Those funds have been matched, he said, with more than $4 million in private business funds.
In addition, Pence said, career and technical education awareness campaigns are launching regionally, with increasing efforts to inform students and parents of available career and training opportunities. Also, CECI partnered with the Indiana Department of Education to develop new, more rigorous academic standards, and to revise Indiana’s A-through-F school accountability system, Pence said.
He added, “CECI also worked with legislators to achieve bipartisan support for Indiana’s first pre-K pilot program, which is now accepting applications for 2015.”
The five agencies that operated under the CECI umbrella — the Indiana Career Council, the Regional Works Councils, the Indiana Education Roundtable, the Indiana State Board of Education and the Indiana Network of Knowledge — will continue with their statutory obligations. The State Board of Education, as well as the other four business units, will be responsible for hiring and managing their own staff.
In an Our View this past summer we stated that the Indiana General Assembly should give the governor the power to appoint future superintendents of public instruction, so that everyone will pull in the same direction. We did not mean that we endorsed the governor’s education agenda.
We believe that divided state government — such as the Republican governor battling the Democratic state superintendent of public education through the creation of CECI — can be a grave disservice to our children and to taxpayers.
Many people believe making the state superintendent an appointed position would be giving too much power to the governor. But education — by far the leading category of state spending — is the No. 1 job of the governor.
The key is that voters should be fully aware of every gubernatorial candidate’s education agenda before going to the polls. And vote accordingly.
We hope that with restored harmony, education in Indiana experiences broad-based progress in 2015.