Helena, Mont. – Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Monica Lindeen today issued the following statement after the announcement that Elsie Arntzen will run for Superintendent of Public Instruction:
“Elsie Arntzen has failed to support our students, teachers and public schools since taking office,” Lindeen said. “Arntzen was absent at the Capitol when our children’s education was under attack. Montanans deserve someone at the helm of the Office of Public Instruction who will be a fierce advocate for our kids’ education, not someone who stays silent in the face of efforts to dismantle Montana’s school systems.”
During the 2019 legislative session, Arntzen refused to take a position on a bill that would have dismantled Montana’s public education system. The bill, HB 303, introduced by Rep. Greg DeVries, R-Jefferson City, would have eliminated enrollment and attendance requirements for children in public schools. It would also have effectively eliminated almost all educational requirements for children attending non-public school or home school.
When asked for comment on that bill, a spokesman for the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI), which is currently run by Arntzen, said OPI “is not taking a position on HB 303 at this time.”
Arntzen has supported 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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