By Web Master, 6-29-12
Greg Gianforte of Right Now Technologies in Bozeman stated, “It is clear our states policies are not in line with the needs and desires of its citizens,” regarding school choice (June 20 Beacon
: “Montana a Battleground for School Choice”). In canvassing hundreds of homes in the Columbia Falls area, as a Senate candidate, I ask every person I meet, “How can Montana government or services work better you you?” The topic of school choice is rarely mentioned. One should not assume that public schools, (School District 6) are getting a free pass. Discussion concerning the quality of schools, teachers and teacher compensation is among the top five items at the doors. If people have suggestions for change it is generally presented from the perspective of a “critical friend” of the school district.
Recognizing state constitutional restraints in respect to taxpayer support of sectarian organizations, legislators should be firmly convinced that in fact citizens desire a more expansive role in funding education opportunities for children not attending public schools. Important questions include: Are Montana’s willing to spend additional resources or eliminate exiting programs to fund choice? How will schools of choice be accountable to taxpayers in respect to assessing student performance? Will schools of choice be required to accept special needs children?
Montana’s public schools do an admirable job of educating all children. There is ample room for improvement to reach a global competitive level. High performing schools, private, public or charter, will require quality teachers and staff coaching, school administrators who spend substantially more time in classrooms who are well versed with curriculum and instruction, and sustainable high quality professional development.
To characterize the Flathead as a battleground for choice may be a bit of an exaggeration based on my feedback. Lacking adequate data, the foot soldiers in this battle may be well meaning and focused, but not representative, yet, of popular opinion.
Candidate, Senate District 2
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