Editorial: Superintendent Elsie Arntzen should make the responsible choice: Resign. – Bozeman Daily Chronicle


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A letter listing “concerns” signed by the superintendents of Montana’s eight largest school districts and sent to Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen is nothing short of a stunning rebuke without parallel in recent history.And Arntzen should do the responsible thing and resign her post.The five-page letter lists a litany of the Office of Public Instruction’s shortcomings, including unprecedented staff shortages and a 90% turnover rate among employees. The result has been delays in schools’ annual accreditation process, the licensing of teachers and processing grant applications, among many other issues. The superintendents say response times to inquiries and applications are delayed by weeks because of the lack of staff.Under state law, if teachers are not licensed within 60 days of employment, they cannot be paid. “If teachers are not being paid, they may consider looking to other states with better functioning licensure programs, further exacerbating Montana’s educator shortage,” they wrote.Arntzen is serving her second term. If after five years in office, the OPI has problems as grave as those outlined in the letter, they clearly are not going to be rectified under her leadership.The superintendents — from Billings, Belgrade, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula — head school districts where nearly 45% of the state’s public school students are enrolled. In their letter they also cite Arntzen’s attendance at radical rightwing rallies where speakers advocate shooting school officials. And cite recent OPI policy directives that undermine school officials’ and school boards’ authority.It’s clear Arntzen is fully invested in the culture war nonsense embraced by the radical right, like critical race theory and rebellion against policies aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. These views are antithetical to the best interests of the schools, their teachers and their students.Of all the statewide elected leaders, Arntzen’s responsibilities are some of the most important. Ensuring the quality of education our students receive is paramount. She is clearly not getting the job done.Under these dire circumstances, Arntzen should admit that and step down for the sake of our state’s education system and its students.

Editorial Board
Mark Dobie, publisher
Michael Wright, managing editor
Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
Richard Broome, community member
Renee Gavin, community member
Charles Rinker, community member
Will Swearingen, community member
Angie Wasia, community member
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