Elsie Arntzen, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, walks into Parental Rights Education Action meeting at Crosspoint Church in Missoula, Montana on November 1, 2021.
A coalition of concerned parents, educators, and community advocates launched Wednesday a petition in support of “the courageous decision by Montana’s superintendents” to bring attention to the significant deficiencies caused by Superintendent Elsie Arntzen’s lack of leadership, the Montana Federation of Public Employees said Thursday in a news release.
In less than 24 hours, the petition had been signed by more than 2,000 Montanans (2,081 as of this release), MFPE said. After helping to launch the petition supporting Montana’s superintendents, MFPE President Amanda Curtis said the following in a statement:
“Superintendent Elsie Arntzen’s time ‘leading’ the Office of Public Instruction has been an unmitigated disaster for Montana students, families, and communities.
“Superintendent Arntzen has spent public time and resources attacking public schools when we need unity and strong leadership more than anything. She has done her level best to drive a wedge between parents, teachers, trustees, and administrators, but the overwhelming and diverse support for this petition shows that we are united in at least one thing: a call for Superintendent Arntzen to do better. We invite her to join the rest of us in providing a great public education for all Montana’s children.”
In an earlier statement, Arntzen said the following in response to criticisms:
“I reject the current continued negative narrative that seems to be politically driven. My statewide work is to restore hope by embracing and engaging the active role of parents and teachers in our children’s learning. I invite all Montana school leaders to proactively seek collaborative solutions.”
The petition can be found here and the copy of the petition follows:
Montana’s students, families, and educators deserve an elected public school leader who supports and champions the work we do together to provide a free, quality public education to every Montana child. After suffering five years of incompetence from the current Superintendent of Public Instruction, we join the public outcry for Elsie Arntzen to do better.
As Montana students, parents, educators, and community members, we demand that Superintendent Arntzen cease and desist in her campaign to undermine our locally elected school board trustees.
We implore Superintendent Arntzen to return to work at the OPI (Office of Public Instruction) to correct the backlog of teacher licensure applications, exorbitant employee turnover, lack of special education support, and delays in accreditation.
We beg Superintendent Arntzen to immediately remove the red tape preventing schools from accessing critical covid relief and student mental health funding.
We stand in full support of Montana school and county superintendents in their admonition to Superintendent Arntzen that “for us to best do our jobs, we need you to be doing yours.”
This story is updated with earlier comment from the superintendent.
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