GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill was up in the Ravalli again, where he made the mistake of discussing his ideas about education with the The Bitterroot Star.
Hill led off with something that will probably surprise supporters in small towns. He wants to shut down their school districts, arguing that Montana’s education system suffers from “too many school districts.” I look forward to reading the list of schools Hill plans to shutter and districts he plans to close, but thus far, they haven’t made his web site.
Mr. Hill also made it clear that he doesn’t know how effective Montana teachers are, telling the press that Montana is “second to last in quality of teachers.”
Presumably, Hill is referring to a Thomas Fordham Foundation’s report, which measured elements entirely unrelated to actual teaching quality, but focused instead on right-wing causes like reducing the power of unions, which are certainly not the measure of effective teaching.
Had Mr. Hill continued to read, he would have noted that the same survey ranked Montana 7th in the country in educational output (actual learning) despite the fact that Montana ranks 46th in teacher pay. We’re also 5th in the nation when it comes to ACT scores.
While Mr. Hill might believe that a collection of low-paid public employees producing excellent results means they are unqualified, he’s absolutely wrong—and owes an apology to Montana teachers.
Not done demonstrating his ignorance, Hill called for “higher academic standards and a common set of core requirements in its 420 school districts.” That would have been an excellent argument three years ago, but Montana has already adopted the rigorous national Common Core Standards under the leadership of Denise Juneau.
Finally, Mr. Hill reached for the stars, telling the crowd:
“That is the dream of having more and better jobs available, a government that is affordable, and an education that will prepare us for the 23rd century.”
Well said, Captain Kirk. Well said.