Something caught our attention at yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting. The board was to address a change in meeting procedures concerning how the public can speak at its meetings.
The board’s existing rules at the time restricted public comments to only items appearing on the meeting’s agenda. The board was to vote yesterday on whether to allow all comments from the public, regardless if they were addressing an item on the board’s agenda.
What most would consider a common sense decision in the spirit of public discourse and transparency, turned into a nearly one hour politically charged petty assault on Superintendent Ritz.
The unnecessary tussle was even used as a prime example of the board’s dysfunction by education reporter Scott Elliott.
Elliott asked rhetorically:
How did a seemingly simple procedural change, one that Indiana State Board of Education members and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz unanimously favored, become a half-hour debate and result in a split vote on Wednesday?
Read his take on this portion of the meeting here.
In the end, the board was split on allowing the public to comment at state board meetings. The board voted to change board procedures and allow unrestricted public comments. However, members Dan Elsener, David Freitas and Brad Oliver voted to continue to restrict public comment.
Regardless of their motives, the vote by these 3 members is wrong and against every notion of transparency and openness in government.