In a slew of press releases and news stories featuring the broken syntax and lack of command of the English language that characterize Elsie Arntzen, the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction laid out a new set of guidelines for student achievement on federally mandated tests, leaving the largest burden on students with disabilities. The Independent Record reports:
The Montana plan says 4 percent of nonproficient students will have to improve to proficient on state required tests each year. But more students with disabilities get nonproficient scores than the average student. And to move from one proficiency category to the other will require students with disabilities to improve scores faster than their classmates.
Despite these increased expectations for students with disabilities, Arntzen couldn’t be troubled to actually advocate for more resources for those students during the legislative session. Attempting to explain her failure to do one of the most important jobs the OPI chief has, Artnzen offered this assault on both the English language and the canons of logic:
“The policies on special education were going to be dealt with within the Capitol complex,” she said. “If you were in my shoes and a newly minted agency director as well as someone coming from the legislative standpoint not wanting to expend 100 percent of energy toward one policy or another, I came in on 100 percent of budget.”
If you can parse that nonsense, you probably couldn’t pass one of the standardized tests that will determine whether not a student is proficient in English or Math.
Her almost total inability to communicate aside, we can’t ignore the fact that, knowing she intended to increase proficiency standards for students with disabilities, Arntzen couldn’t be troubled to advocate for those students and increased funding to serve their needs before the Legislature. Hell, essentially the only reason Arntzen could consistently argue she deserved election over Melissa Romano was her service in the Legislature, but she absolutely refused to use that experience to advocate for students.
In fact, Arntzen told the Independent Record that she “expected policies related to special education to be dealt with by legislators,” despite the presumed expertise from OPI and the fact that the conservative Legislature certainly wasn’t going to increase funding for any program without a strong, persuasive effort from the agency.
In an interview with the Billings Gazette, Arntzen, referring to the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the No Child Left Behind guidelines, offered this nonsensical claim, further demonstrating her struggles with the language:
“ESSA as a synonym, it could be equity across all subgroups.”
That’s not what a synonym is, Elsie. And what you’re doing is not what a Superintendent does. It’s kind of amusing that you can’t seem to write or speak a coherent sentence, but there’s nothing amusing about your failure to do your job and look out for Montana students in public schools.
Please demonstrate basic proficiency yourself before imposing what well could be impossible standards on students with disabilities and the schools who serve them.