Montana Free Press Editor-in-Chief John Adams sat down last week with Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen for a wide-ranging discussion about growing concerns over lead in the drinking water of Montana public schools, Title 1 funding, school choice, and President Trump’s rollback of key provisions of President Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
In one of his first actions as president, Donald Trump, with the help of House and Senate Republicans, rolled back key provisions of ESSA, the 2015 education law that replaced George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. Arntzen said that while she supports ESSA, she also supports less government regulation of schools and current moves toward taxpayer funding for private schools.
“Why would anybody want a top-down law that’s going to have compliance measures to that? Nobody wants a student to fail,” Arntzen told Adams on the podcast. “School choice … is a flexibility for a student. … It’s a consumer choice of what you do with your money before it’s taxed. … If I want to say, ‘I want to spend my money here, or spend my money there,’ the state should have no authority on what that should be.”
Arntzen recently made headlines when she sparred with state health officials over proposed new rules aimed at dealing with lead in the drinking water of Montana schools. Arntzen said her decision to push back against the changes was grounded in her objection to the process by which they were proposed.
The article was published at OPI chief Elsie Arntzen talks school funding, student success.