Anyone who has had the misfortune of following Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen’s battles with the English language has come away a bit confused, if not entirely broken, when confronted by her abuse of the basic conventions of spoken English. While she’s mangled syntax, bungled sentence order, and invented a series of unintentional neologisms before, I’m not sure that she’s ever managed to say less (with less clarity) than in her recent remarks about school shootings.
Speaking to ABCFox’s Bliss Zechman, Arntzen offered this statement to reassure nervous parents and offer guidance to our schools about how they can be safer spaces:
I may be wrong, but I believe the first sentence literally means that schools need to have doors so that people can enter and exit and the second indicates that local school boards are responsible for ensuring that schools do, in fact, have said doors.
I believe I speak for every Montana teacher when I offer this thought from Billy Madison in response to Mrs. Arntzen’s remarks:
At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
There’s no small irony at play when the person entrusted with ensuring that Montana’s students become proficient in written and spoken English lacks even a rudimentary command of the language and cannot, apparently, articulate the simplest idea. That’s almost as unnerving as knowing that the person in charge of developing and communicating effective strategies to keep our schools safe is entirely incapable of meeting the task.
I understand that Republicans are engaged in a long war against public education, but surely even they see that putting Mrs. Arntzen in charge of anything is just a step too far.