Education Montana Politics

Sandy Welch’s Absurd Campaign for Superintendent Continues to Flounder

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.

Of course, that Ms. Welch struggles to read and understand a news article should probablywelch come as no surprise, given her creative misuse of the English language during her campaign.

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.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • “Teachers and students know what she’s already done for Montana schools and look forward to four more years of her excellent leadership.”

    Like vote against Otter Creek coal which pours money into school districts?

      • 86 million up front money. Almost enough to make your pension plan whole again.

        Beside lease monies here’s the down/low on the economics impacts.


        Using a state-of-the-art policy analysis model of the Montana economy that has been peer-reviewed and used in dozens of other studies, we have carefully examined the contribution made to both the economy of eastern Montana as well as to the state economy as a whole by the proposed Otter Creek mine. Our study has revealed the footprint of this single facility in Powder River County to be substantial. Comparing the status quo economy to one that would exist if the construction and operations of the mine took place as envisioned, we find that:
        ? 2,648 jobs, including 2,372 private sector jobs, ? more than $103 million of personal income received by Montanans, and ? $136 million in net output produced in Montana
        would be created and sustained annually throughout the construction period for both the mine and the railroad. Almost three-quarters of these new jobs would be in the state’s hard-hit construction industries.
        When the mine goes into operation and ramps up to the 20 million tons of annual production envisioned, there will be:
        ? 1,740 permanent jobs, including 1,338 private sector jobs, ? more than $125.4 million in annual personal income, ? 2,843 more people, and ? almost $92 million in additional annual state tax revenues

        Of course absolutely none of that would go to schools. Right Don?

          • Coal is a toxic substance. It’s radioactive, the dust causes black lung, it can cause unexpected explosions.

            The “value” would be to expunge this scourge from our state.

            Via rail.

            • I suppose the trains would be hauling away all of the dust, diesel exhaust, processing chemicals and explosives’ fallout in your valuation, right?

              The policy analysis doesn’t fully take costs of construction nor the detriment to the value and product’n of land surrounding the proposed RR into consideration. Landowners along that 100+ mi. stretch of the Tongue have fought tooth and nail against coalbed methane development and RR proponents for over two decades, with little help from a state gov’t and an electorate that would both love to see immediate and transient cash-flow instead of a core that has provided for them for over 150 years. Tradition rooted more deeply in the history and economy of our state than any other is infinitely more valuable than a short-term, ecologically senseless and morally bankrupt cash-cow. But of course moral values and my opinion mean very little to you.

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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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