Helena—Superintendent of the Office of Public Instruction
Elsie Arntzen yesterday addressed the House of Representatives after her office
refused to take a position on legislation that attempts to dismantle public education in Montana,
which Arntzen oversees.
The bill, HB 303, introduced by Rep. Greg DeVries, R-Jefferson City, would eliminate enrollment and attendance requirements for children in public schools. It would also eliminate almost all educational requirements for children attending non-public school or home school.
When asked for comment Thursday, a spokesman for the Montana Office of PublicInstruction (OPI), which is run by Arntzen, said OPI “is not taking a position on HB 303 at this time.”
“Montanans have long invested in public education for our children,” said Monica Lindeen, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “The fact that the head of our public schools won’t say whether she opposes legislation thatwould undermine the public education system she works for is concerning for the future of our children and our state. Holding public education back will ultimately hold our children back from greater opportunities throughout their lives.”
Arntzen has previously voted for other efforts to undermine public education. In 2011, she voted for a state budget that provided $12 million less in state funding for K-12 schools than what was proposed by then-Governor Brian Schweitzer.
And in 2013, she voted for legislation that would have stripped funding from Montana’s public schools and instead put it toward creating privately operated charter schools. Cutting public funding from public schools puts the very public school system Arntzen oversees in jeopardy.
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