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Posted on Sat. Aug. 24, 2013 - 01:30 am EDT

Education, jobs agency launched

But Pence offends Ritz by not telling her in advance

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INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Mike Pence announced the creation of a new state agency Friday to coordinate education and career workforce training efforts in the state.

The Center for Education and Career Innovation will improve collaboration among Indiana’s public, private and nonprofit education and workforce partners by aligning education and career and workforce training efforts.

But the move got off to a rocky start because he left a key person out of the loop – Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, who runs the Indiana Department of Education.

The news release said the center will collaborate with several partners in state government – including the Department of Education, the Indiana Charter School Board, the Department of Workforce Development, the Commission for Higher Education, and the Office of State-Based Initiatives.

Other entities such as the Indiana Career Council, the Indiana Works Councils, the Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education – though functioning independently – will also exist as part of the new agency. In fact, those groups will pool existing resources to provide a $5 million operating budget for the center.

The announcement came at a 10 a.m. event with Pence’s news release coming shortly after. That was followed quickly by prepared remarks from Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

“Partnerships require communication,” said Daniel Altman, spokesman for Ritz. “Unfortunately, Superintendent Ritz learned about the creation of this new agency through news reports, rather than from Gov. Pence. Superintendent Ritz has met with the governor on many occasions, including as recently as two days ago. However, neither he, nor his office, mentioned the creation of this new agency until this morning.”

He noted that Ritz received 1.3 million votes last year from Hoosiers that trust her to run the Department of Education.

“Hoosiers students would be better off if the governor would work with her, rather than around her on this vital issue,” Altman said.

Altman clarified later that someone from the Pence administration left a voice mail about the announcement less than an hour before the event. But neither Ritz nor the Department of Education was part of the planning for the new agency.

Pence’s office responded with a statement that the governor “communicated that he was considering a reorganization of a number of agencies under his executive branch authority in a conversation with Superintendent Ritz earlier this week.”

“The administration looks forward to working with Superintendent Ritz and the Department of Education as we work together to better education for the children of Indiana.”

According to the news release, the new center will foster, identify, and scale innovative education and workforce models, tools and resources and ensure Hoosier educators have the freedom, support and flexibility to succeed in the classroom.

Through transparent accountability systems, CECI will hold students, adult workers, educators, schools, higher education institutions and workforce programs accountable for their progress.

The center will be led by two administrators on Pence’s staff and have a staff of 16 employees.

“Indiana has made great strides in the last eight years when it comes to improving education and workforce development opportunities for Hoosiers, but with unemployment stubbornly staying above 8 percent, there is still work to be done,” Pence said.

“The Center for Education and Career Innovation will strive to improve coordination between pertinent agency partners and industry voices to ensure a world-class education for students and to better prepare adults to be successful in their chosen career pathway that also meets industry demands.

“By creating a focal point for bringing together and deploying critical resources, the agency will deliver real change in Indiana, benefiting Hoosier families, employers and taxpayers, and, ultimately, impacting every Hoosier across the state.”

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