OPI: Empowering Montana Parents With More Control Over Their Child’s Education
"These rules mark a significant departure from a status quo that all too often robbed local parents of control over their child’s education – for this Superintendent Arntzen deserves praise!"
It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.” – James Madison
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a wave of reforms across the country aimed at restoring local control and giving parents more say in their child’s education.
Here in Montana, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Elsie Arntzen, has been working hard to cut unnecessary red tape so that parents have more control over their child’s education.
She broke down these reforms for our followers in a column earlier this week. The reforms are aimed at three areas.
1. State Standards for Teaching and Learning
Over the last 30 years the state’s teaching and learning standards have become outdated. Superintendent Arntzen brought them up-to-date by revising the following areas: Library media content, Social Studies, Computer Science, Career Technical Education, Technology Integration.
“This follows the spirit of Thomas Jefferson’s views on education that an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”
2. Educator Licensing Flexibilities
In order to address Montana’s long-standing issues with teacher retention and recruitment, she implemented changes that slashed through red tape to make it easier for Montana schools to hire high quality teachers.
3. School Accreditation
A history of rules that focussed on adult employment rather than education results led her to revise 45 rules and propose an additional 5 rules. That is quite an accomplishment! The most impactful of these is proposed rule changes to address mental health by measuring outcome rather than employment – something we have previously highlighted.
“This new program will be created and implemented at the local level to best fit student and community needs.”
These rules mark a significant departure from a status quo that all too often robbed local parents of control over their child’s education – for this Superintendent Arntzen deserves praise! Stay tuned as we continue to cover more work being done to make Montana children and parents the focus of our education system.
FDA Red Tape
The United States has been experiencing a severe baby formula shortage due the temporary shutdown of one of the nation’s leading formula manufacturers. A recent article in the Daily Montanan detailed how red tape is preventing a Billings company with an FDA qualified manufacturing facility from manufacturing baby formula, at the same time the FDA is relying on importing formula.
Our Take: This is yet another example of how the accumulation of thousands of regulations has been shown to stifle economic growth and substantially increase the cost of doing business. Red tape shouldn’t be a barrier standing in the way of parents being able to feed their infants. The federal government should follow Montana’s lead by focusing on broad red tape relief so that something like this never happens again.
The Forest Service recently published the Forest Atlas of the United States as a way to better understand how our forests have changed over the decades and the challenges they face going forward. The photo below highlights how a century of fire exclusion has led some forests to become uncharacteristically dense, making them at higher risk for a catastrophic forest fire.
Our Take: By engaging in active forest management strategies such as thinning and prescribed burns, forest managers can make our forests healthier and more resilient to fires. While Governor Gianforte is leading the way on this effort, it’s time for the federal government to cut the red tape standing in the way of forest projects.
Cutting Housing Red Tape in Missoula
A recent article by NBC Montana discussed how the City of Missoula’s zoning code has largely remained the same for 40 years. To address this the city is beginning working on a comprehensive overhaul of zoning codes in order to bring them into the 21st century.
Our Take: As we demonstrated in our report the Montana Zoning Atlas, Missoula’s zoning code prohibits multifamily housing in 75% of the city. And while we commend Missoula for taking the first step to update their zoning code, the city should ensure that an updated code brings with it pro-housing reforms such as the elimination of minimum lot area penalties and exclusionary single-family zoning – some of the biggest barriers to the creation of cost-friendly housing.