As the campaign season continues, it seems increasingly clear that Greg Gianforte just doesn’t know what the governor does. He’s criticized Governor Bullock for not stopping an act of the Washington Legislature, seems to believe that the role of the governor is to criticize President Obama, and seems to believe that the governor should not travel the state to meet with constituents.
The latest demonstration of this lack of knowledge is ongoing one: his crusade to transform Montana schools into factories to churn out drones for tech companies. Today, he and Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Elsie Arntzen rolled out a proposal that would require schools to allow computer science courses to fulfill both foreign language and science requirements for graduation.
One problem is obvious: local school boards set graduation requirements in Montana, something a candidate for OPI should know, and something a computer expert should have been able to Google. Even though Gianforte has repeatedly called for allowing students to replace foreign language with computer science, there is no Montana requirement for a foreign language credit to graduate. Right now, any school in the state can do exactly what Gianforte and Arntzen propose. That’s what local school boards, not the governor, do.
That ignorance of the law pales in comparison to the ignorance that Gianforte and Arntzen propose to create by changing the science requirements for high school students. Currently, the state requires that students only have two years of science in high school, which, for most students, means one year of Biology and one year of Earth Science. That’s a pretty sensible minimum requirement for anyone other than the curator of a Creationist Dinosaur Museum, as it’s hard to argue against the idea that students should be acquainted with basic concepts of life and geological sciences to receive a high school diploma.
Practically, we want our students to be able to succeed on critical exams like the ACT and have the best chance to get into college. Philosophically, we want our students to know that the Earth is more than 6,000 years old and that life evolved over billions of years. Arguing that students can skip one of those core courses would deny them basic scientific literacy, and make them the kind of people who believe a snowy day in December disproves the theory of climate change.
It’s almost like Gianforte and Arntzen don’t want our kids to be educated. Wait…