For eight years Dan Elsener has served as a member of the Indiana State Board of Education, representing the 7th Congressional District, which consists of most of Indianapolis/Marion County. Last year, voters in the 7th District overwhelmingly voted for Glenda Ritz to be state school’s chief in a landslide. Ritz won with 64.3% of the vote, compared to 35.7% for incumbent Dr. Tony Bennett. Recently Elsener, who is President of Mariana University has been embroiled as the public face of board members pushing back against Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. In a live exclusive Afternoons with Amos interview, Dan Elsener gave his side of some of the story and talked with Amos about the duties of the State Board and his views on the many education reforms in Indiana. Because of Supt. Ritz’s lawsuit against State Board members, Elsener couldn’t discuss that aspect of recent events, but in the wide ranging interview Elsener talked about the duties and responsibilities of the State Board. Elsener talked with Amos about the A-F grading system and whether that was effective way of measuring the quality of Indiana schools. He also talked about the Common Core curriculum changes and decision the State Board must decide on before the end of the year. Amos talked with Elsener about special education and whether the State of Board of Education should examine disproportionality of minority boys in special ed and whether schools are administering special ed properly and legally. Amos asked Elsener about the rapid pace of educational reform in the state and whether it was time for that pace of reform to “slow down”.
After Amos said that Glenda Ritz won the 7th District in a landslide last November, Elsener countered saying he believed that Dr. Bennett had gotten more votes from 7th District voters last year than many believed. Amos strongly disagreed. Later computation of the election data showed that Glenda Ritz received 164,673 votes from 7th District voters compared to 91,504 for Tony Bennett. In fact, in areas of Indianapolis/Marion County outside the 7th District, Ritz beat Bennett 54.8% to 45.2%. Elsener was passionate in the interview about improving Indiana’s education system, especially for the benefit of Black and other minority students. Elsener denied that he disliked Supt. Ritz. He said that after her election the two had talked in a one-on-one conversation. Elsener said the State Board members were now engaged among themselves in a “strategic planning process”. Saying the Board was “bipartisan”, Elsener repeatedly said that during his eight years on the Board they never acted in a partisan manner. Click the Arrow to Hear Amos’ Exclusive Interview with State Board of Education Member Dan Elsenser. Runs 38 Minutes ©2013 WTLC/Radio One.