A philosopher once said that we are really three quite different people; the one we see as our self, the one others see, and the one we really are. All very different and the first two are merely reflections.
The recent discourse concerning the Q & A session between representatives of the Great Falls Public Schools and the newly elected Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Elsie Arntzen, was not congratulatory, or welcoming. The event seems to be a spot-on reflection of the discourse surrounding President Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee, Betsy DeVos, who has been ripped nationally as Arntzen has in Montana.
Do you think the shoot-from-the-hip comments and condescending narrative directed at both women just might have some to do with their similar pro-voucher, pro-charter schools, and most importantly, pro-choice education positions? Do you think just maybe the NEA and the MEA have leveled their sights on Elsie and Betsy? One important feature is the emphasis and the substance of the word public when referring to education in our state as well as nationally. There is a not so new paradigm that suggests that the government’s program of public education for our children may not be the only, or the most successful methodology. When a country spends the most money per student on public education, yet ranks 29th in the civilized world in educational achievement, its structure probably ought to be up for review.
If pro-choice, charter schools, and vouchers have shown positive results, why not let this shift universally seek its level? The answer seems obvious; public education is a big business. Any move to divert taxpayer funds from the public education business is viewed as a threat to those running the business.
The truth is that parochial schools have been around since the beginning of our country’s history and the best colleges and universities are private institutions, many of which were founded based on religious principles. Why, then, should parents and students be financially penalized for exercising pro-choice educational freedoms when it concerns their children?
No matter the venue, existing and new educational methodology must be positively responsive to the new world we live in. It is well established that education on all levels must advance two basic important tasks, creativity and innovation. Without a strong emphasis on these, our children will not successfully meet the demands of the 21st century marketplace and our country will be at a significant disadvantage in the new world economy.
Yes, and how we design our schools can affect the education outcome we must achieve. Gone is the cellular and static concept we have duplicated in the past — encouraging movement, sensory stimulation and interdisciplinary study is the future. To do this, working together with open minds is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, the left’s assaults on DeVos and Arntzen are instructive of knee-jerk partisanship, and ultimately, a willingness to place agendas above policy while shamelessly using our children as political pawns.