Some have suggested that my standards for a Superintendent of Public Instruction are too high, but when our schools have been led by incredible women like Denise Juneau and Linda McCulloch during my tenure in the classroom, I have some lofty expectations. I not only want someone with a vision for Montana schools, but someone who believes in the potential of our students and educators.
More fundamentally, though, I’d like someone with basic literacy skills. It seems that the Republican candidate for the Superintendent’s chair lacks that foundational skill. Recently, I made note of her seeming inability to read a basic chart, indicating some problems with math.
Just yesterday, she posted a claim on her Facebook page that Denise Juneau was the “underdog” in her race to retain her position as Superintendent.
The claim is most problematic, of course, because it’s a literal misreading of the text. Montana’s new Common Core Standards for Language Arts require students to demonstrate mastery of literal reading of text during the elementary levels.
Beyond that, Ms. Welch seems not to understand the historical and cultural context that makes Denise Juneau’s ascent to statewide office so impressive and such a triumphant underdog story. The first American Indian woman elected to statewide office in Montana, Juneau has achieved so much and she’s just beginning. As Gyassi Ross notes in the article so badly misunderstood by Ms. Welch, Juneau’s achievement as a woman from the Blackfeet Reservation demonstrates how ridiculous underestimating her would be:
Like many Northern Plains reservations, unemployment there hovers around 70%, socio-economic issues abound, and let’s be honest, there are places where it’s difficult to get your footing and to really get ahead. There are plenty of talented people on our reservations, yet because so many of these homelands are so remote, so off-the-grid that the many times the talents get overlooked and seem to simply fade into obscurity.
Denise Juneau is not the best choice for Superintendent of Public Instruction because of how poorly her opponent has run her campaign; she’s the best choice because she’s an accomplished educator and leader. Teachers and students know what she’s already done for Montana schools and look forward to four more years of her excellent leadership.