It became clear during the last legislative session that conservative talk about local control of schools was nothing more than talk, as they tried to impose their narrow view about curriculum on the entire state. Not content to leave the experience of conservative hypocrisy to the likes of Representative Kris Hansen, gubernatorial candidates Ken Miller and Neil Livingstone recently let the North and South Valley Pachyderms in Victor know just how radical their views on education are.
As Ravalli Republic reporter Whitney Bermes notes both candidates made it clear they’re hostile to health education and local control of schools.
Miller opened up, claiming that public schools in Montana teach “pornographic education to kindergarteners” and that we need entirely reform education in Montana, focusing on charter schools.
Ignoring the fiscal irresponsibility of suggesting more schools when many are already struggling with declining enrollment and a concomitant lack of resources, Miller’s assertion that teachers are exposing children to pornography is the rhetoric of someone both ignorant about the work teachers do and profoundly disrespectful of their professionalism.
I’ll also suggest that Mr. Miller’s fixation on pornography and children says a great deal more about his psyche than it does about Montana’s teachers.
Not to be outdone, super-spy Neil Livingstone showed that he understands democracy in Montana about as well as he does in Libya, claiming that teacher unions control school board elections in Helena, presumably so that they can teach sex ed instead of history:
While I know Mr. Livingstone hasn’t lived in Montana long enough to understand how school board elections work, they’re the same here as in the rest of the state: one person, one vote—and the people of Helena resoundingly rejected the anti-health argument Livingstone and other conservatives advanced.
Given that Mr. Livingstone has such a limited knowledge of how government works in Montana, I’d suggest that he, not the education system, needs to emphasize civics education.
Montana has a proud tradition of local control of schools. It’s enshrined in our Constitution for many reasons, not the least of which is the danger of ideologues trying to dictate their values from the governor’s chair.
Neither of these two has any chance of becoming Montana’s governor, but voters should be wary of a party determined to undermine the idea that local communities can provide the education that’s best for their kids.