FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Helena, MT – After the Bullock administration announced that Montana school districts would receive $75 million in needed aid to help them safely reopen in the fall, Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen launched a bizarre campaign against the critical funding.
Arntzen complained on Twitter that Bullock provided critical funding to Montana students and teachers, and bizarrely claimed the Governor’s office is “using the deployment of dollars for a benefit that is not for students.” Earlier this month, when asked if Montana schools would require more aid to help with reopening, Arntzen demurred, saying “no one really knows” (despite education leaders across the state calling for additional assistance), and refused to push back on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s threats to withhold funding from Montana schools.
Arntzen’s antipathy towards schools receiving critical aid, while perplexing, is not surprising. When the Trump administration rolled out its budget for 2021, Arntzen cheered the billion dollar cuts to public education — including a $30 million cut to Montana schools. Throughout her time in office, Arntzen has failed to show up for the most basic bipartisan legislation in support of public schools during the 2019 legislature, yet went so far as to appear with DeVos at an ALEC-sponsored panel last year in support of privatizing Montana’s public schools.
“It says a lot that the only thing Elsie Arntzen has done during this pandemic is attack the Governor for sending critical aid to Montana schools,” said MDP Communications Director Nathan Stein. “Instead of working to keep students and teachers safe, Arntzen is instead doubling down on an ideologically-driven attack aimed at politicizing this pandemic.”
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