Education Greg Gianforte Montana Politics

Why Doesn’t Greg Gianforte’s Petra Academy Welcome Students with Disabilities?

Written by Don Pogreba
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While conservative groups, most of them backed financially by Greg Gianforte, continue to press the case that the state should violate the Montana Constitution and permit public funds to be spent on private, religious education, another problematic element of the private school agenda has escaped serious scrutiny: that many of those private schools not only have restrictive covenants that would restrict attendance based on religious beliefs, but also exclude students with disabilities.

It would be fair to say that Bozeman’s Petra Academy likely would not exist, and certainly would not exist in its current form, without the involvement of Greg Gianforte. He served as the chairman of its board from 2003, and has personally funded many of the school’s facilities and programs.

The application for Petra Academy contains a section one that certainly seems designed to permit discrimination against students with disabilities or behavioral issues:

Petra Academy is not staffed to handle students with severe learning disabilities or those who have trouble behaviorally. For your child’s best interest, please be candid when you answer the following questions. (If more than one child is applying please consider each one when answering.) If you answer ‘yes’ to 13-20, please explain below. Further elaboration of your answers may be required during an interview.

The application then goes on to ask a series of questions about the students, asking if they have been diagnosed with ADHD, have seen a psychiatrist, or received any special education services. Imagine the outrage if a public school used those questions as screening tools to prohibit students with disabilities from attending.

Not only would it be an outrage, it would be against the law. Public schools are expected to follow the guidelines of the IDEA ACT, which mandates that students with disabilities are provided free and appropriate education in what is called the least restrictive environment possible. Public schools don’t have the option to exclude children who might present additional challenges or require intensive staffing that can be quite costly, because public schools are committed to the simple idea that all children deserve access to education.

These restrictions are not only in place at Petra, of course. A search for the language about students with disabilities and/or behavioral issues shows that it is boilerplate language used all over the country, including in other Montana private schools. Still others do not state they may not accept the students, but ask the same questions, questions which are likely to prevent enrollment of students who might prove challenging to teach.

As Former Asst. Education Secretary Diane Ravitch notes, it’s not uncommon for private schools and those that receive vouchers to exclude students with disabilities from attending, with some going so far as to push students out of classes:

“Unfortunately, the rights and protections of the IDEA do not apply in private voucher schools such as LifeSkills Academy, and special needs vouchers would not change that. Private voucher schools are not required to have therapists or special educators on staff, and Wisconsin’s existing voucher program has a dismal track record of expelling or “counseling out” students with disabilities.

Now you might be tempted to give Petra Academy and other private schools credit for admitting that they cannot do what public schools can, namely, to teach students of all abilities and disabilities to their highest potential. That credit would be misplaced, however, when you consider that the organizations Mr. Gianforte supports, like the Montana Family Foundation, advocate the transfer of public dollars from public schools to private academies that literally inform students with disabilities they may not be welcome at their schools. Today, the Great Falls Tribune published an op-ed piece from the Gianforte-funded MFF, arguing once again for public dollars to be spent on private schools and scholarships to attend them.

It’s hard to understand how a school that prides itself as being built on Christian values explicitly informs potential applicants that they may be denied admittance for having a disability, but it’s unconscionable to argue that the state and its taxpayers should actually pay for schools that have discriminatory policies written into their admissions policies.

Perhaps the press will consider asking Mr. Gianforte to explain why he believes it would be appropriate to spend public money this way.

 

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

86 Comments

  • Health practitioners in the area are also well aware of the exceedingly low immunization rates of the Petra student body. It’s a pertussis outbreak waiting to happen.

    • This is a ridiculous claim. The whole REASON people get immunized is allegedly so that they wont’ get sick when they are exposed to the disease you are speaking of..right? IF KIDS HAVE GOOD NUTRITION they are HEAD AND SHOULDERS above kids that get every dang shot on the planet. I’m living proof. I had vaccinations and caught everything as a kid. Sick multiple times a year. I STOPPED putting trust in the idiot medical community (sorry but most of them do NOT have even a decent knowledge of nutrition which is KEY to understanding how to prevent a body from getting ill. Integrable cell walls are KEY. )

      Anyway ‘health practitioners in the area’ should do actual case studies like various institutes have done. Or at least read the journals that cover these studies. I’ve used a supplement for going on 9 years now I think. Have been moderately ill for one day in all that time. NOT MULTIPLE WEEKS A YEAR. One..day in 9 years.

      Medical industry is just that. An industry. It optimizes it’s profits. Part of that means you allow people to get sick. Otherwise there are no profits to be made. Offer band aid solutions to deeper issues. Treat the symptom instead of the root issue. etc. etc.

      • WAIT A MINUTE! You mean you were sick with small pox, chicken pox, measles, AND polio several times a year?! And lived to tell the tale, and are NOT disabled in anyway?
        You didn’t catch ANY of those diseases because you WERE vaccinated.
        But of course you DO NOT have a degree in medicine NOR do you work with anybody who is remotely associated with any intelligent, educated member of the medical profession. It’s easy to think you sound knowledgeable when you only believe reports and (false) studies that support your ridiculous belief that vaccines don’t work.
        And like most undereducated, bigoted, and overly-opinionated Americans who feel that they can thrive on only the basic free and equal education that they received from the tax payers in this country.
        THANK GOD and all that is SPECIAL in this universe that some folk went further than you and actually LEARNED about medicine instead of relaxing in their arm chairs, misunderstanding vague reports that are meaningless and don’t prove that vaccines don’t work.
        Only the IGNORANT profess to know more than reality, or science, or people better educated than themselves.

  • Why Doesn’t Greg Gianforte’s Petra Academy welcome students with disabilities? It is because
    Gianforte is part of the “Prosperity Gospel Movement”, he believes that if you are rich it is because you are moral and righteous and God is blessing you with wealth. He also believes if you are sick, handicapped, or poor God is punishing you for being immoral and evil and it’s your fault. Gianforte believes because God made him prosperous he is morally superior and has no obligation to help the needy, sick, and poor. Gianforte the “Christian” candidate publicly says “prosperity is a virtue”….that is the antithesis of what Jesus Christ taught. I’m sure Gianforte’s anti-Christ beliefs are taught in his “Christian” school as well.

    • I’m trying to review this. A friend of his claims he isn’t. But says he just believes what Grace Bible believes which is generally immature Christian doctrine (pre-trib rapture bail out…lol…. nicene counsel wording with ‘persons’ on the trinity…..and ‘believe in Jesus’ for salvation without really delving into what it MEANS to be ‘in ‘ Christ according to context.)

      I’m kind of the original internet evangelist and have reasoned with so many people for 30 years that I’ve learned how to better word things so that people don’t get so confused.. But..there’s nothing in that doctrinal statement about prosperity doctrine so you might well be right at this point. I’d have to talk to him myself to know. I can find out pretty quick if someone will actually converse.

      Obviously it’s a fallacious immature belief. Lazarus Jesus spoke of was outside a wicked rich man’s gate and the man just judged him every day and wound up in hell. While Lazarus wound up in God’s place of comfort.

      Anyway as far as ‘what are we qualified to do’ in a school…that’s a whole different question. If parents want their kids to spend some organized time each day studying math, sciences etc. they should have a right to do that and it’s GREAT if there is a Christian school option TO do that. So I don’t know what the structure is there but hey I think there are larger schools that might be more equipped with special ed teachers etc. and at SOME point you are talking about a ‘niche market’ that exists where it would 1) make for a smaller school 2)thus attract a disproportionately small number of handicapped kids such that it would be very cost inefficient to hire a teacher specializing in teaching them. Hence perhaps it would make better sense to send the kids to a different school rather than hire another teacher for 3 or 4 kids.

      Let me extrapolate this. Say I decided to start a school. I’m a certified science teacher in the past with physics and chemistry specialty. Should I not have the ability to just say “I will teach your kids over here because I have a better science program than the other private schools if you want them to be good in science”? And say “Unless you are up to spec mentally to keep pace I can’t take time to teach you. There are other schools..use them”?

      I think our society would be a lot more productive and HAVE more time to HELP the disabled etc. if we would just allow people to do what they feel led to do on those kinds of things. So I can’t just criticize Petra for not welcoming every student necessarily. It’s a private school and they are basically making out a plan to be able to pay teachers and hopefully educate kids to do better than a public school on tests AND to have a Christian bias instead of a secular bias when that comes into play.

      • Bob Weigel, okay as long as Petra remains a private school only and gets ZERO public funds. Gianforté is a supporter of public funds and scholarships for private schools.

  • Good post, Don, especially on the heels of a column by Jeff Laszloffy on “school choice.” Laszloffy says that kids are different and some have needs beyond what public schools offer. He goes on to say that public dollars should go toward private schools to give these kids with special needs an option. Problem is, these private schools don’t accept these kids. And as you know, Gianforte is a huge contributor to Laszloffy’s Montana Family Foundation.

  • Although these admission guidelines appear divisive, discriminatory and elitist on the surface, I think the school is simply being upfront about their educational expectations due to faculty limitations. Since they are a private school, they accept no federal dollars, therefore they have a right to do what they are doing. Not receiving federal money means that the teaching staff is most likely very traditional, as in no classroom modifications to fit individual learning styles, no speech therapist, no special Ed teacher, no teacher aides hired to assist a specific child, etc. If your child has disabilities that hinder his/her ability to learn in the type of educational setting offered at that school, in my opinion, the school is actually providing the parent a valuable service by informing them upfront that they do not have the services and specialty teachers available to meet that child’s needs. Sad, but all those specialty service can be very costly and the private school must decide if they can afford those services. I’m guessing they probably cannot.

    Does this raise eyebrows? Yes. It does. No parent wants their child turned away and every parent wants their child to be successful. But in my humble opinion, I would rather see this upfront honesty from a private school than hear about them simply accepting every single applicant, along with the high tuition payments, knowing full well they are ill-equipped to meet the educational needs of that child.

    • A reasoned response, Carol, but you go on to say, “Since they are a private school, they accept no federal dollars, therefore they have a right to do what they are doing.” Yes, but they’d love to get, and are lobbying for, taxpayer dollars. Would they open their doors to special needs kids if they got public money?

      Also, Carol mentions ” … the high tuition payments … ” which would exclude so many Montana kids. This is not a problem in public schools.

    • Carol, great comment! Which got me to thinking about a new commercial for Mr. Giantfart, that would go something like this:

      Hi, I’m Greg Giantfart. Look at me. I’m a pretend Montana who pretends to care about Montana kids. See my white shirt, jeans, and chrome dome! Well, the truth be told, I’m bald! OOPS! I meant bold! I’m BOLD not bald. I get those two confused! Yes, that’s right. I’m bold. So I’m gonna tell you straight up. If you got a kid that’s a gimp and needs extra help, well, this IS Montana after all, land of the great outdoors. What better activity than hiking? So, if you got such a kid, a gimpy kid, TAKE A HIKE!
      My madrassas are for kids that are dumb enough to believe the earth is six thousand years old. In other words, SPECIAL kids, not special ed kids! So, again, take your gimpy kid to public schools, and then, take a hike!

      I’m greg giantfart and I approved this message, for I’m bald, NO!, I meant bold!

      Greg, on a personal note, I already told you that you have my permission to use any of the commercials I write for you, Pope Chromedomis the First!

      • p.s. And Carol, you DO know that this little chrome dome dipshit built a “creation museum” in our beloved state, right? In other words, we go from one of the states that has produced some of our greatest artists, writers, actors, painters, poets, etc., to a dipshit who built a CREATION museum here! The guy is a friggin’ JOKE of a little man from back east. That’s all. All the money in the world wouldn’t make this little pretender a Montanan, and shows! He’s a pathetic fake trying to be an imitation!

        http://www.world-peace-society.net/WPS/cartoon/cartoon/Creation_MuseumBumperSticker.jpg

    • Carol,

      Thanks for the reasonable response. I do have some issues with it, though.

      The first is that Petra Academy charges $7,200/year for tuition in high school. They’re not barely managing, with no resources to teach their kids.

      The second is that their policy does not “appear” to be discriminatory. It is discriminatory. There’s no question about that. It certainly may be currently legal, but it’s a ideological choice to discriminate here.

      Finally, the broader issue is that they want state funding. Gianforte and his organizations are pushing for efforts to take state dollars and send them to private schools. I’d also argue that Petra already benefits from government funding indirectly.

  • Private schools like Petra don’t have to teach Common Core’s curriculum.

    And frankly I resent the fact that schools have taken the place of clinics which are better suited to handle the severely handicapped.

  • Pete Talbot, I’m not sure how the private school would delegate public dollars. It seems only logical there would have to be government-imposed rules and regs put into place by the receiving institution or the federal dollars would likely be withheld. Seems like “free” money, especially government money, always comes with strings attached!

    • Ah yes, gummint money! Gummint schools! Free money! Well, Carol, if ya want to send your kid to gummint schools, you gotsta put up with them gummint strings! You see, Carol, MOST Americans don’t want to pay for kids going to Giantfart’s madrassa school, for there, there are NO strings! Only Jaysus and indoctrination! Cults make the worst place for real education to take place.

      But seriously, one serious question for you. Are you NOT embarrassed for our beautiful state because Giantfart built a creation museum here? I AM! The dude’s a friggin’ CULT leader! Why should anyone vote for a cult leader?

  • You keep calling it public money. The Supreme Court has already ruled in a different case that allowing someone a tax deduction for that doesn’t make it public money. It’s the same as getting a deduction for your donation to your church. How many of you take advantage of that? Quit calling it what it isn’t, and has been ruled by the courts it’s not. As for taking kids with disabilities, I agree with the earlier comments, they are upfront about and are a private institution, that’s their choice and at least they are honest about it up front.

    • It’s high praise indeed for a school founded on Christian principles to be “honest about it up front” that they discriminate against children with disabilities. I must have missed that part in the New Testament when Jesus was healing the sick.

      And Mr. Gianforte has donated huge sums of money to groups that push for “school choice” policies which will transfer money from public schools to private schools like Petra that discriminate.

    • Honest? They’re actually freakin’ HONEST about their bigotry? Well, Jesus would approve of that I’m sure! btw, cary, maybe we TAXPAYERS could get a few of them non-taxed religeeeous dollars to help PAY for them kids with disabilities! Seems like I remember myself a case here in GF where the inbred fundis SUED the school district because they said a teacher “water boarded” their special needs kid! HEY, that’s ONE way to make a living off’n the “public money”! Let’s see how many of these right\wing fundi kids giantfart’s madrassas take in! I’ll wait. If’n the parents have found Jaysus, is it not wrong for Giantfart to refuse the lil’ gifts from god? I’ll wait.

  • It’s hard enough for public schools to get special education teachers, so these private schools should hire them away from the public school’s and really create problems? It’s a private school!! They can accept whoever they want like any private organization. They aren’t trying to be the end all your public education, they are just offering a choice to those who want it. Grow up people.

    • The word is “whomever”, Cary, NOT whoever. They can accept whomever! But really, a shortage of special ed teachers prevents Giantfart from welcoming these special little gifts from God??? Sorry, but I thought the guy was a BILLIONAIRE! What the hell DOES he spend his money on then??

      OK, choice. I get it. If the fundis want to send their kids to a madrassa that teaches them the world is six thousand years old, fine. Just don’t ask US to pay for it! Deal?

    • But they’re lobbying for public funds, not to mention the hypocricy of a “Christian” school refusing education to those in need. Not my “brand” of Christianity certainly.

    • Cary, the point is as a private school Petra gets no public funds. Legally private schools are free to accept or deny any student and provide or not provide certain services. Gianforté is a financial supporter of changing the law to make public funds available to private schools. I’m guessing you’re well aware of these elementary facts.

    • As a public school special education teacher, the problem is that there is a movement to take money FROM those public schools for the school choice movement. I can not fathom how Christians, of which I am one, can justify taking money from public schools for ALL CHILDREN to fund private, Christian schools that blatantly reject students with academic, social, or emotional deficits. How is this serving or loving? How is this offering grace and mercy? Then, to ask for money designated for ALL CHILDREN in order to discriminate and not be held accountable is completely ridiculous. According to its own admission documents, “Petra reserves the right to deny admission to a student if his or her ability, behavior, or emotional development indicates that he or she could not be best served by our school program.” I totally respect any choice parents make for their children’s education, whether it be public, private, charter, or home, but if they choose to opt out of free public education, then they choose to pay for the alternative. It is simple to me.

  • Well LK, Greg doesn’t personally fund these schools. Once you figure that out you might be better off. What he does with his money is his business, what’s the matter, a little butt hurt he has more than you? Special needs kids need special teachers and classrooms, perhaps one day they’ll get enough interest from people they will start a program for it. But hey, this is America, if you don’t like it don’t send your kids there. The school isn’t costing you a penny so quite frankly your just being a whiner.

  • There’s discontent and then there’s pure hate. This profile suggests hate page after page. https://themontanapost.com/author/pogie/

    Is your confusing attack against Petra or Gianforte? Do you include in your attack all the families of Petra–who must otherwise be mindless, inseparable followers of the Gianfortes because that text exists still?

    Private, non-profit schools would offer these services if they could financially. Nothing is more rewarding than helping a child. It hurts when you can’t. The Gianfortes help disadvantaged people through other programs. Are some Christian? Sure. Are some not Christian? Yes. Do they have an annual report online and list the groups they helped? Yes. How? Google.

    I’m sure many families at Petra do charitable works. But, they recognize that the original text of the bible including the Parable of the Good Samaritan didn’t contain the passage “in the public school system.” I think you would know this before bringing the fight. As a teacher, as an English teacher, you have read the bible, right? This isn’t really an audience you want to start slinging bible verses with.

    I’m not sure what point a public teacher is trying to suggest by making private education the same as public education–other than for a public school teacher to think exactly what the teacher’s union tells him to think–so they can lobby Congress.

    Of course, I expect more than this from my children’s teachers. And, higher expectations is why private education exists at all.

    If you’re discontent: Tackle a campaign to make the world suck less. https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-education-america

    • Ed, if you think disagreement is hate, you’re part of the problem. I’d be happy to debate any specific arguments with you, but childish accusations are part of the reason we can’t have discourse in this country.

      While the Bible doesn’t mention “public schools,” it also doesn’t mention charter schools, private schools, or discrimination as positive things. I’ve never encountered those.

      If you’d like to debate the merits of this argument, that’s one thing. This personal diatribe, unmoored from facts, is just kind of sad.

      • I’ll debate a member of the faculty from the 100th best high school in the state of Montana anytime–especially since in round 1 you already ignore my arguments and wave your magic wand hoping people don’t read it. http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/montana/rankings?schooltypepublic=y&int=c0b4c1&schooltypemagnet=y&state=MT&schooltypecharter=y&page=5

        100 = Fact Is the problem with Petra? Disabled students? Students? Faculty? State? I’d cleanup your own backyard first…Something about rocks and glass houses.

        Using the English language and a dictionary as childish fact (you teach the English language right?):

        ** Diatribe::a bitter, sharply abusive denunciation, attack, or criticism
        ** Discourse::communication of thought by words; talk; conversation
        ** Discontent:: lack of contentment; dissatisfaction with one’s circumstances.
        ** Hate:: feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone).

        Your diatribe attacks a person and an educational institution more than it expresses any dissatisfaction Petra causes you, the community, or the state. This article does not appeal for the the plight of disabled students in our state. The discourse you are the moderator of involves people using foul and disrespectful language towards good people.

        In MT, disabled children are receiving quality educational services that are provided by the state–unless you are also saying that the state and public education system are not providing equitable services. In which case, you have people’s attention!

        You are not put out at all–either by Petra or the well-being of disabled students. You’re disparaging a person and an institution. You’re publicly calling into question that community’s values.

        The most important question: Are children with disabilities and special needs receiving proper services from the State of Montana? Please answer.

        Do something, bigger. I’m led to believe you’re more intelligent than this. There is little to achieve on this subject other than a language change. Even you have established that the US DOE and the laws say there is nothing wrong.

        Your only end game is to disparage a community and then continue to do so. This article will achieve exactly the value of its content…0.

        • “The discourse you are the moderator of involves people using foul and disrespectful language towards good people.”

          Yes, eddy, we mustn’t dis Pope Chromedomis the First, for that is expressly forbidden by Jaysus! Jeez, eddy ol’ boy, politics AIN’T beanbag, dude! I happen to think that Giantgart is fair game, especially after he’s come out swingin’! Time to LIFT the skirt of the pope and see what’s underneath bee FORE we elect Him, right? It’s just truth in advertising. There’s too much at stake for you to go all righteeeous on us. I mean, really, if Giantfart can’t handle the heat, why is he running?

          btw, just HOW do you know Giantfart is “good people”? Source please. Is it by all the folks in his church who run around calling each other my good friend, etc? Yes, I know you folks quite well, for I’ve dealt with you for years! Save the sermons for Sundays, for guess what? We don’t ALL believe your holy roller crappola!

          Here’s a novel idea, eddy. Why don’t you ask Giantfart to actually ANSWER some questions from reporters so that we, too, can see this good people dude? Is that asking too much? Or do we just get the PR canned version of him?

          And really, your such a pretty fart smeller, explain FOR us redneck Montanans just HOW Giantfart made his billions! In specific detail? For you see, he SEEMS to have created a bunch of jobs that can be SHIPPED to India overnight! Is that really economic development? Help me here. I’m serious about this. We rednecks want to know how he did it, and why it was so marvelous. For you see, doesn’t seem to have improved OUR lot in life here in ol’ Montany!

        • Let’s start with some facts.

          1. I never wrote a single disparaging word about a student, teacher, or administrator at Petra Academy, despite your suggestion that I did.

          2. The school has a policy that is discriminatory. There is no question about this point.

          3. Mr. Gianforte has been the chair of Petra’s school board for a decade and that position, as well as his financial power, make it clear he could have changed the policy.

          4. He has funded organizations like the Montana Family Foundation, which call for moving public dollars to private schools like Petra.

          5. Given the likely make up of the Montana Legislature, if he is elected governor, Mr. Gianforte will have decide to sign a bill that would fund private education like the program in place at Petra.

          This leads to my conclusion that Mr. Gianforte needs to tell the people of Montana if he would sign a bill that would allow this kind of discrimination to take place using public dollars. Raising that issue is not a smear, but an entirely reasonable question.

          You, in your defense of Mr. Gianforte, have attacked my professionalism, motives, students, and school. Despite this, you’re trying to claim that I am the one who is disparaging someone.

          Are any of my facts wrong? Is there some reason Mr. Gianforte shouldn’t have to explain what kind of bills he would sign into law?

          And I am happy to defend my school. Helena High, serving students of all economic backgrounds and disabilities, scored the second highest ACT results in the state last year, and has three times been named to the national honor roll for Advanced Placement. Last year, we were the only school in the state to receive that honor. And we achieved all of that without discriminating against anyone.

          As for your dubious ranking of Helena High, could you please read the criteria being used? And perhaps explain why Petra Academy does not appear on the list at all? Oh right, it’s because they don’t have to test their students.

          • Abbreviated version: You have a right to legally challenge the discrimination that you see impacting children. I think it is shameful if you don’t. You can file those complaints today! There are federal and state commissions to investigate and enforce equal rights. You don’t need to wait for Mr. Gianforte to take office or not. Do something, other than vilifying Petra Academy.

            The title of your article includes the phrase “Greg Gianforte’s Petra Academy.” 1.The subject stated in the title of the article is Petra Academy. It is not Mr. Gianforte. It is not public policy on special education. You are attacking Petra Academy. You can remove Mr. Gianforte’s name from the title and the question stands on its own with no loss of meaning. 2. This is possessive–stating that Mr. Gianforte owns the school. It’s a fact he doesn’t. However, you are implying more than what you are explicitly stating anyways. Those are facts of the English language.

            I explicitly asked you to answer this question. You didn’t. The most important question: Are children with disabilities and special needs receiving proper services from the State of Montana? Please answer.

            • Ed,

              While you think you are an expert on this and every other subject, I can’t file a legal challenge against Petra. In the legal system, one must have standing to file suit. Am I a parent who lives in Bozeman? No. Have I had a child denied entry? No. So all I can do is draw attention to the fact that the person who wants to be our next governor wants to sign a law that would permit state dollars to pay for a school that discriminates against children with disabilities.

              As to the question about children with special needs receiving proper services, I’ve not answered because I can’t speak for all districts in the state, and haven’t researched enough to make a general judgment. I’m sure, though, that you have a deep and thorough knowledge about this subject. Instead of pretending this is some winning point in the argument, perhaps you can enlighten us all on the subject.

          • You haven’t read my remarks. Maybe that’s the reason you skip statements and my explicit request to answer a question altogether. I’m providing a rebuttal to your attack on Petra Academy and private education. I said Mr. Gianforte is a good person and does a number of charitable works worthy of respect. I haven’t defended any policy statement or theological doctrine. That’s a fact. If you read my posts, you can discover this on your own.

            What you should do is call Petra (privacy laws will be cited but the worst they can say is no) and inquire about this subject. Or, do real, investigative journalism to see if there are any students with disabilities attending Petra. What student disabilities has Petra worked with in the last 3 years? You’re probably math disabled so let me state this for you–3 points, each academic year, constitutes a trend.

            The answer is yes. And, there wasn’t any public funding associated with it–that’s a fact of public policy. If you need to shame a family and a child to truly know if it is language alone or if there are special need students, I’d be willing to speak with a family to stop this assault on Petra Academy. You’ll need to agree to certain terms somewhere along the lines of a very public apology to this community and beyond. It would actually be my honor.

            I love point 3. He could change the policy. You could do something too! Change the laws. Do something. I’ll say it again to continue to reiterate this.

            1 – I never said you made disparaging remarks. My question was directed to see if you understood the implications of your statements, basic language skills. Now, we know you don’t. In fact, I’ll show you don’t understand the logic of language. You’ve proven already that you haven’t read one of the most interesting books–even simply for the pursuit of intellectual knowledge. And, you’re an English teacher too.

            The title of your article includes the phrase “Greg Gianforte’s Petra Academy.” 1. The subject of the article is Petra Academy. It is not Mr. Gianforte. It is not public policy on special education. You can remove Mr. Gianforte’s name from the title and the question stands on its own with no loss of meaning. 2. This is possessive–stating that Mr. Gianforte owns the school. (It’s a fact he doesn’t.) However, you are implying more than what is explicitly stated. Those are facts of the English language.

            They publish their finances to the community monthly.

            2 – You proceed further to say that this paragraph is a normal and accepted measure used by most private schools–sectarian or non-sectarian. You’re correct. The discrimination laws are very clear and well-articulated.

            When applying discrimination laws to private schools there is one good general rule: if a private school doesn’t receive public financial assistance, it’s free to pick-and-choose who attends the school. Period.

            The rights to protest discrimination or enforce one’s rights to equal treatment are provided in various federal and state laws. These laws allow for private lawsuits with the right to damages. There are also federal and state commissions to investigate and enforce equal rights. To save face, I suggest you…do something. Bring the issue in front of a state agency. You don’t need to wait for Mr. Gianforte to take office before you challenge the discrimination you see today. You can do this today.

            Thanks for taking the bait, too easy…Just as you took offense and defended remarks against your school, I am standing for the community against your remarks. Read the title of this article. Your subject is Petra Academy not Mr. Gianforte.

            3 – He could do a lot of things. I could. You could. We all could. There are improvements to this world in front of all of us every day. I think I’ve said that in each of my posts. Do something.

            4 – I don’t judge a person or their view of a single line item on an issue especially when it’s legal. I like to see the complete package. There may be pieces we don’t have background that impacts understanding additional points and a vision entirely—anyone’s vision not just your sworn enemy Mr. Gianforte. There are plenty of states that provide public dollars to private schools. I am sure Nevada eats at you.

            I look forward to reading what your buddy in moderated, fact-based, intellectual discourse has to contribute next to this fine rag.

            • I certainly hope you’re not a product of Petra, given its claim to teach rhetoric.

              Even if Petra has educated one or two or seven students with disabilities, it doesn’t change the fact that they have positioned themselves to exclude students based on disability. In fact, it seems to point out a series problem in Petra’s justification for excluding those students. They claim on their application that they lack the resources to educate students with disabilities, but now you tell me they can and do? Why, then, do they exclude some students?

              Your response to my third argument is perhaps the weakest argument I’ve seen anyone make, ever, in any context. I cannot change the policies at Petra Academy. The chairman of its school board can. And chose not to. And you’re running around defending him. I think even someone with a private school education can probably understand that.

              Your circumlocution strategy, combined with ad hominem attacks about my education, union affiliation, and personal agenda, and a strange fixation on comments I’ve neither read nor written, all come down to an effort to defend discrimination and shift responsibility for that from the person who had the power to change the policy.

              The fundamental questions remain clear.

              Should a school founded on Christian principles discriminate? In my reading of the Bible, I can’t find any justification for it. Perhaps you can point me to verse that does.

              Should any institution in the United States be able to discriminate against the disabled? Would you approve of a restaurant that had a notice on its door similar to the admission policy in place at Petra, for instance?

              Should a hopeful next governor of the state, one who has publicly said that he has funded “school choice” organizations that want to spend public dollars on private schools, explain if he would allow those schools to continue their policies of discrimination?

              The rest is just noise.

              As for me, I am doing something. I’m calling attention to a problem. That’s usually how you start addressing them.

            • Eddy, if you ever feel the need to come to my defense, please DON’T! I prefer my jurors to be a WAKE during deliberations! What they heck ARE you, some kinda outhouse lawyer? Me thinks you doth BS too much! You simply gotta be the writing teacher at Mr. Giantfart’s Peta academy! For first there was the word, and then another word, and even MORE words until God cryeth from the heavens ENUFF, Dude! Stop it! You boreth My creation to death! And then God commanded lil’ Eddy, clean out the stables be FORE writing next time!

              You’re a funny little fella, eddy. Do you get paid by the word? One would think that with all the money Pope Chromedomis the First, has he could at least afford a decent wordsmith! Is THIS how he’s gonna run the state, with cheap labor from Tennessee? I hope not!

              Bottom line, eddy, Giantfart is fair game! His beliefs are SO bizarre that they do indeed demand the utmost scrutiny. No amount of your blather can smother them from view. The dude built a CREATION museum! I have yet to see you deny that. And we all know that that is considered to be child abuse. We can NOT allow greggy to embarrass our beautiful Montana by electing him governor. Maybe he should start small, like getting elected to the legislator first so we can see what his creds are. If any!

              Many of these rightwing fundiwackmentalist organizations that greggy supports are considered hate groups, for that is what they preach. We do NOT need that in Montana. That’s not who we are. Being from new jersey, I guess greggy doesn’t understand that.

              You see, greggy thinks he’s on a roll. He got that moron lil’ stevey daines elected, and now, he thinks he can do the same! Daines is an idiot. He got his AZZ handed to him by Amanda Curtis in debate. It was embarrassing. I thought he was going to cry. Amanda is Butte, Daines is calipornia! Greggy understands this. That’s why he’s trying to run his campaign on pure PR nonsense. Will it work? I dunno. Eventually he’s going to have to speak to the press, or maybe not. Will that be enuff? I dunno, but I doubt it.

              But if YOU are an example of how he plans to run his campaign, I have only two words for you:

              GOVERNOR BULLOCK…….by a landslide!

              PurrrrRAZE Vitory!

          • If only people would stop bashing public school for just a moment and come see what our classrooms and schools deal with on a daily basis. I was at school until 5:30 on Friday dealing with CPS and the local police. I do not remember the last day I worked my contract hours. We, public school teachers, buy food to feed our hungry students every day. We bring in clothes and shoes when a child needs them. I work with children of drug addicts and alcoholics, with children who don’t know if their parents will show up tonight, with students with significant academic and behavioral needs. It is incredibly difficult, very rarely rewarding, makes me weep occasionally, and I wouldn’t change my career for anything. My heart is called to serve ALL children, to love the way Jesus loved. Come into the public schools for a day, you who are so quick to criticize. Offer to help. Make a tangible difference for the good of your community. Open your eyes. You simply have no idea.

  • I attended private (Catholic) school growing up. In addition to paying expensive tuition, my parents ALSO paid the full allocated taxes to fund public schools, from which they received no added benefit. School funding, and the argument for “tax dollars to follow the child” are ages old. Moreover, private institutions really are not equipped to handle these types of disabilities. It’s a huge cost for a very small number of students who would benefit from the investment in requisite facilities and staff.
    If you open a business that builds widgets, are you going to make just one a month and charge an outlandish price that guarantees no one will ever buy, or will you produce and sell enough to at least break even, where marginal revenue is equal to or greater than marginal cost? Only the latter will allow you to remain in business. Schools are no different. There must be a minimum, sufficient number of students requiring special services to justify the cost of supporting them.
    This article describes an issue that existed long before I began elementary school nearly 40 years ago; It’s nothing new. That makes it but another meaningless (really pointless) rant against a well qualified candidate running for office who has an opposing political viewpoint from the author.
    I know Greg and Susan personally and they are exceptionally upstanding people. That’s why folks of political opposition can only grasp at straws to attempt a fabricated smear like this one.
    I disagree with Steve Bullock politically, but you won’t find me attempting to smear him. I fervently believe that is politics of the worst kind. Don, you should keep in mind that outside of politics, we are all still neighbors. And just like in any neighborhood, I’m sure there are people who may have choice things to say about you, but don’t because they choose instead to be neighborly.

    • A few points, James.

      In Montana, the idea that “tax dollars follow the child” is not true. Our constitution specifically forbids spending public money on private, religious schools like that. If Mr. Gianforte wants to change that, he’ll need to amend the constitution.

      I think your argument that the small size of some private schools prevents teaching students with disabilities is problematic, too. Surely you know that the smallest public schools in Montana, some with only a handful of students, have to provide full services for kids with disabilities, right? That they can’t turn away kids because they have ADHD? Public schools, no matter their size, manage to teach all kids.

      There’s nothing fabricated about this argument. Mr. Gianforte has headed the board of school that explicitly discriminates against kids for over a decade. He wants to change Montana law to allow public funding of schools that endorse these policies. Given his unwillingness to talk about substance, people are going to keep digging into his record, one that is steeped in discriminatory beliefs. They aren’t personal attacks; they are important questions of policy for Montanans to know about.

      • You do realize that public schools that educate special needs students (including small rural schools) often receive funding from many sources including federal funding. There are some students whose needs can cost tens of thousands of dollars each year. How could a private school freely accept any and every student who applies regardless of needs? Ironically when my grandson who is deaf moved here, he was told by his local school district that they had no program and could not accommodate him. Another district did accept him but pressured his parents to move into the district. This year he is attending the Petra K4 program – he has been warmly welcomed the staff, students, and families.

        • Um, BULL sh*t! Sorry, but THAT is a swing and a MISS! How do I know? Welllllll, because I WORKED at MSDB for eight years! And I speak ASL, do YOU?? I thought not!

          ANY child in Montana can attend a public school with an interpreter! True story. It just ain’t that hard! Deaf kids are no big deal to public schools. OR, they can attend the Montana School for the Deal and Blind here in GF.

          Try again, granny. Your giantfart worship has blinded you! btw, I would recommend that your grandchild attend MSDB, for being part of the deaf community is the best way for deaf kids to succeed! Need some contact info? I’ll be glad to provide it for you!

          And for you folks that don’t understand deaf culture, I highly recommend that you get the video Children of a Lesser God. Best movie ever made about deaf culture. Academy award winner too. And just a great movie all around!

        • Carol: That is a fabricated story told over and over again. I know that you have a special interest in the school . And you can feel free to tell all of us what that special interest is. But, no , you won’t . LK is right on the mark.

    • No, jimmy, you’re quite wrong, dude. No, BIG time wrong. And stop your whining. Look, YOU might think that Giantfart walks on water, but the rest of us here in Montana don’t. The dude is running for the highest political office in our state, and saying and doing some outlandish things. And you expect us to bow in silence as if you had a message from the LAWyord for us? Should we wash his feet? Keep our heads lower than his at all times? Forget that, dude. Suck it up. You holier than thou chumps get no free passes.

      Look, Giantfart has already picked a fight and staked his positions. He’s gonna be a rightwing wacko Kockh brothers supporter! He’s so far outta the mainstream that he’s already outted himself. Need proof? He built a frickin’ CREATION museum here in Montana! How bizarre is that? PLENTY bizarre! What an embarrassment to our beautiful state! You a catholic dude, ever seen a priest build a creation museum? Hell, this ain’t frickin’ Tennessee! What’s next, a Noah’s Ark? Handlin’ snakes to make the world suck less? Nope. He did that stupid azz trick himself! So yeah, he’s exceptional alright, exceptionally wacko! And THIS is the dude that wants to lecture us on education? Too funny.

      And secondly, and stupidly, he attacked our state by saying that he was going to appoint someone from industry to head the DEQ. HEY, if there’s sumthin’ dummer to say out there, please enlighten me! Them’s fightin’ words, and then all his little supporters like you go all Jesus on us when we point this out. I don’t care HOW “upstanding” you think the guy is, you DON’T do that crappola here in Montana without getting called on it! So, stop whining when it happens.

      It appears that Giantfart thinks he now OWNS the state. Well, he doesn’t. He doesn’t get to move his azz here and start remaking into something he thinks Jaysus told him to do! He wants to trash the environment. Well, that ain’t gonna fly without a leetle pushback. And if he can’t take the heat, he’s dummer than I thought. See, this happens when a newbie moves to Montana. They have NO real insight or understanding of our history because they’re not from here. Twenty years as a fundie techy in Bozeman hardly qualifies him to governor!

      And btw, I too attended Catholic schools as a kid, and you wanna know something? I NEVER saw a C school reject a kid for behavioral problems. Quite the opposite! Them nuns LOVE ornery kids! I know, I was one! There is NO comparison between Catholic ed and the little madrassas of the fundiwackmentalists. So, if you wanna debate that, let’s get it on! The history of Catholic education here in Montana is unmatched! They really DID help a lot of people who needed help! What does Peta do? Create good little cristofascist kids! It AIN’T the same thing! Some of us are old enough to not be bullsh*tted, so don’t try.

      p.s. NO WHERE in the Holy Buybull does it state that a wacko runnin’ for guv deserves not to get his feelers hurt! I musta missed that chapter and verse! But it did say plenty about money and wealth!

      • HEY, if I might quote Bobby Jindal. “We’ve got to stop being the party of stupid”. I THEENK someone forgot to tell Giantfart and his supporters here in Montana! WELCOME TO MONTANA, GREGGY! Guess we’ll see how particularly upstanding you really are! Sheesh, I luv the defense of his supporters. Yes, out of a hundred years of Montana history, giantfart moves here and he is sumtin’ special! Too damn funny!

        http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_public_schools_mapped_where_tax_money_supports_alternatives.html

        • The problem is, when you can deny science, you can deny ANY thing, like climate change. The good news is (aren’t the giantfart kind always talkin’ about the good news?), the good news is that if you actually believe that we’re living in the end times, it don’t really MATTER much now does it? And this is what most of the fundis believe! It’s exactly what James Watt believed, and guess what? WE’RE STILL HERE! Giantfart is a little Watt clone! He’s nothing new, nothing special. Is it really hate to point that out? I think not, although James Watt WAS one of the most despised men in our recent history. People hated the man for what he attempted to do. And they had good reason to do so!

          SOME of us actually believe that our earth is worth fighting for, for we see OUR god in creation, for that’s all we have! The land is the ONLY true thing. And we want to leave a little something for our children, like clean water, clean air, healthful environment. Hell, it’s in our state constitution, a document I don’t THEENK greggy fully understands! Maybe the fundis should start a petition drive to get an amendment for a Dirty and Sh*tty Environment clause to our constitution! I think that Jaysus would approve!

          http://lh5.ggpht.com/_6-Uxg3BTLvg/Tar-iFXqA-I/AAAAAAAAChY/MZnXGbCw6Os/creationism-demotivational-poster-1224483935.jpg?imgmax=800

      • A few months ago Gianforte was making the rounds of business departments at various colleges. I attended an open-to-the-public speech of his at UM Western (business students were required to attend) where he spent about an hour talking about what a great entrepreneur he was and how, if they really tried, students could be just like him some day!

        There were maybe fifteen of us there who weren’t students. During the Q&A following his presentation, there were very few questions from students (who looked pretty bored) and a couple of suck-up questions from non-students.

        Finally, I stood up and asked him if, as the wealthiest man in the state, he intended to use his fortune to become governor. He turned his back on me and said, “Next question.” The head of the business department, sitting on the other side of the room, then stood up and yelled at me, “Questions are supposed to come from students only!”

        Which was bullshit, since maybe five other non-students had asked “Gosh, how can I be great like you?” questions before I asked mine.

    • Yeah, eddy, you WOULD like to silence all who disagree with you, wouldn’t you? That’s kinda cheesy, dude. What, you can’t take the heat? Don’t POST, sport! btw, why are YOU Giantfart’s biggest fanboy?

    • Eddie, en QUE idioma quieres ha BLAR, pendejo?! Eddy, you’re a lightweight, pendejo. And it shows! For you see, I speak only THREE lenguajes, but dabble en mucho mas more! For the record, lil’ fella, how many do U speak? And we DON’T count speakin’ in tongues! (but I do like the way you fat boys roll ’round on the floor when you git the spirit in you! Reminds me of save the whales!) But I digress.

      You see, cupcake, I’m your worst nightmare! I’m an edjumacted certi FIABLE Montana redneck! Nam vet too! And there’s lots of us out here! THAT is your reality, sweet cheeks! So get used to it. We actually DO know sh*t from shinola, sumthin’ that AIN’T taught in mr. giantfart’s madrassas! Sh*t from shinola 101 is NOT part of Jaysus’s plan!

      But here, dufus, allow me to explain. Yes, I like Don. He’s a really, really smart guy who gets it. But like the black Irish kid from Butte, O’Bama, he needs an anger translator. And I’M THAT GUY! I’m Redneck Luther! And I revel in my role! I translate for the common Montana redneck what all the inbreds out there are trying to do! Is that so bad? I don’t think so. And really, if mr. giantfart actually WANTS to live in a toxic sh*t hole with NO public lands, why does’t he MOVE his azz back to new jersey?????? THAT is the question! Did the dufus REALLY think that Montana was an untamed land just WAITING to be settled by the christofundiwackmentalists??? Bad, baaaaad move! For you see, eedy, we were al READY settled be FORE ol’ baldy was even a gleam in his daddy’s eye! True story. Goggle it.

      Here’s me and Don explaining our relationship!

    • sWeed, I’d like to respond, really I would. sniff. But you see, I’m just too upset. Seems that that magic underwear din’t protect brother leevoy finidumb. sniff. He watered the tree of liberty whiles’t wearin’ his magic undies! Ain’t NO great sacrifice than that! Leevoy’s lookin’ down from Planet Kolob now with his seventy-two virgin cousins as we speak. And leevoy, you done your people proud, dude! I’ve got my magic undies all at half mast for you, brave reetart! Joey Smith would be SO proud of you right now!

  • I guess ‘Doctor’ G.G. would argue those with disabilities can’t ride his dinosaur models to show how humans and dinosaurs walked together 6,000 years ago at the dawn of the world in Genesis, huh?

  • Looks like the conversation is going downhill. I would like to say that if you have any doubts or think that giving public education dollars to private schools, take a good look at Arizona. The gov, Ducey, was bought by out of state dollars. He now wants state dollars to build new private schools. AZ is already closing public schools because of poor conditions and no money to fix them. AZ has cut funding to all public schools, including community colleges, universities, and elementary and secondary schools. There is no guaranteed defense against the dollars that can be raised by these people. They have no respect for the Constitution, be is State or Federal.

  • James Guglielmo, I too am not in to smear and prefer converstation to talking points. So just talking on a keyboard, here’s the stumbling block in front of me.
    My own experience. My Sunday School book was: “The King nobody wanted”
    In Grade School the whole class got to slide down the big waterslide type fire escape, if we all did well on a spelling test. Sometimes we as a class would earn the right to have five extra minutes of playground and baseball time. The kids came from very different neighborhoods and went up through the grades together.
    Teaching Old Testament based creationism would have divided us.

    Teaching creationism whether if from Bishop Usher, or from contemporary creationists comfortable with cell biology, or large number statistics, is NOT appropriate for School Education until after students have working knowledge of health and history and language and math combined with critical thinking.

    I was lucky, Church I went to taught against interecessionary prayer and that we were not bound by Old Testament worldview.

  • Roughly speaking, creationism whether if from Bishop Usher, or from contemporary creationists comfortable with cell biology, or large number statistics, is NOT appropriate for School Education until AFTER students have working knowledge of health and history and language and math working in conjunction with critical thinking.
    Kids also adults deserve a rejoinder!

    • p.s. And I would ask that if there are ANY “reporters” left in Montana with any stones at all, would they PUUUUUHLEEEZE ask mr. geeeYannFARTey just what those finni cum dude’s “beliefs” are that she is willing to die for? Same question for sen. Jennifer “uncle fester” fielder! What the freakin’ HELL are those beliefs, sen. uncle fester fielder??? Sorry that you look like uncle fester with hair! Tough way to go through life!…………BUT YOU DESERVE IT!

      Jumpeeeen JAYSUS! Git these inbred morons to the middle east, where they can actually FIGHT/DIE for something worthwhile. The theft of middle east oil! (thanks, bushes!) For you see, NOW, (and I never dreamed that this would happen), I can actually friggin’ DRIVE all my gas guzzlin’ AMERICAN MADE GAS HOGS!

      And I gotta tell ya, I’m LUVIN’ THE SH*T OUTTA THIS! I mean, there is nuthin, NUTHIN’, that makes an old man happier than listenin’ to that dual exhaust, TWIN exhaust, beeeY0OUTiful exhaust, sound outta my 390 Ford MOTOR! sweet, sweet motor! (although a beeYOUTiful woman moanin’ underneath an old motor head comes close……ALMOST!)

      Yes, I think it’s time. Time for the Montana press to GRAB THEIR NUTS AND SUCK IT UP! There’s already plenty of wussie “news” people out there, like reecard ecke from the Spitoon. You other dudes out there, you young Turks like Adams, DO YOUR DMAN DUTY!

  • sigh. I’ve got an old outhouse on my land. A good friend built it years ago when he needed a place to defecate. He would stay out there when he was down from the Hi Line. Therefore, I thought it only fitting that I give that sh*t house a name. In honor of Leevoy Shittydumb, I’m naming it the Leevoy finni cum memorial SH*T house! I wanna make leeboy proud. I’m sure he’ll like it from up on Planet Kolob with his 72 virgin underage cousins. LIVE ON, LEEBOY! Ya done us proud, inbred boy! Every time I take a dump out there on the land, I’ll think of you……and your pervert ways!

    http://www.oregonlive.com/oregon-standoff/2016/01/oregon_standoff_occupiers_remo.html#incart_maj-story-1

  • I looked into schooling my child with learning difficulties at Petra. I did my research but I suspect you did not actually talk to anyone at the school. I can tell you that it is a financial decision. Fifty percent of Petra’s students are on need based scholarship. Petra’s board feels passionately that an excellent education should not be reserved for the wealthy. Fifteen percent of the student population live below the poverty line. I assure you that none of the hateful nonsense spewing in the comments section is taught at Petra. On the contrary, it is because of Greg’s religious conviction that he believes it IS his obligation to help the needy, sick and poor ( not to mention every other non-profit in Bozeman.) I watched the former headmaster’s eyes fill with tears as he told me of a child with learning difficulties that they had admitted and then were unable to properly help. Public schools get money from taxpayers to educate children like mine. Petra does not. Hiring a special education teacher and or specialists for one child means that the other teachers may lose a significant portion of their pay. Did you know that some of the specialists that work with children with disabilities make as much as $100 an hour? Petra is committed to paying their teachers a living wage with benefits and that is tough. All of Petra’s financial information is available as a non-profit so feel free to check. I did. Tuition does not cover their budget but raising tuition makes costs prohibitive to working families so they do A LOT of fundraising to off-set deficits.
    And by the way, Petra teaches evolutionary theory alongside creation. If they are teaching crack-pot science, why do their graduates go to schools like Stanford, Cal-Poly, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Pepperdine, etc?
    The discontent on this page is not intelligent at all. Lots of hate and not much meaningful dialogue. I’m disappointed as I love to hear others opinions when they are founded in something less speculative.

  • Just to be clear, as a former RNT worker…Petra was BUILT by Greg. Of course it wouldnt exist without him…it is his. He moved here…didn’t like the schools so he built Petra. Didn’t like the church so he built Grace Bible church. And now he wants the taxpayers to pay for his school kids, but will be very selective about who goes there. No, no and NO…Greg is NOT a good choice for governor.

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