Rick Hill’s Relentless Negativity Isn’t What We Need in a Governor

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It’s certainly an interesting question to consider why Rick Hill wants to be governor of Montana. He’s so down on the state and its prospects. While Montana weathered the economic downturn better than almost any state, Rick decried the state of our economy. While national organizations rate Montana’as business climate as excellent, he keeps insisting, despite no evidence, that our business climate is poor.

Now it’s education. This week, Hill told The Bitterrot Star that Montana’s colleges weren’t doing a good job graduating students. Today, the Department of Education reported that Montana did twice as well as any state in the country in terms of increasing its college graduation rate:

The U.S. Department of Education released statistics Thursday that showed Montana increased its number of students graduating from college by 3.2 percentage points from 2009 to 2010 or double the rate any other state. The national average was one-half of one percentage point. Montana’s college graduation rate rose to 40.3 percent in 2010 from 37.1 percent in 2009.

I don’t think the next governor of Montana should be a Pollyanna, always talking about how great the state is. We do need to do real work. But Hill’s brand of relentless negativity is more than wrong; it does damage to the state. Endlessly repeating that our business climate is bad and that our education system is broken (when they’re not) might play well to Hill’s political base, but they damage the reputation of the state.

We’ve all seen what a no-nonsense, solution-oriented, optimistic governor can do for the state these past eight years. Let’s put another one in office, rather than someone who seems convinced Montana’s best days are behind her.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-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.

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Roy Spaulding
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Roy Spaulding

I completely agree with you that Rick Hill and Montana are a poor fit. There are lots of reasons for this but this comment about education is not one of them.
Noting the improvement in a rate of increase and what the actual rate of graduation is are two totally different things as, I think, you well know. Montana ranks about 43 out of 50 states in the rate of graduation.

James Conner
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How are you defining the rate of graduation? As those who earn a baccalaureate degree in four year? Or, another metric? Please cite your sources. I’m interested in reading them myself.

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