Could Elsie Arntzen Be Recalled?

The big buzz in Montana politics today is the shocking front page article in the Great Falls Tribune, revealing that a borderline illiterate person is now the head of our school system.  In case you missed it, Arntzen was asked, in front of a classroom, whether she’d support a statewide preschool program for the neediest and poorest children.  The response was so alarming that the Tribune decided to print the entire thing.  I would encourage you to read the whole article, but I have printed excerpts below. 

As you will see, this is a person who is barely able to speak English.  There are fourth graders who could have uttered more coherent and complete sentences. And there are recently arrived immigrants who could have, too, even some for whom English is a second or even third language.  She is now in charge of Montana elementary and secondary schools.  (Her predecessor went to Harvard).

The grounds for recalling an elected official, under 2-16-603 of the Montana code are:

   (3) Physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense enumerated in Title 45 are the only grounds for recall.

Perhaps the process should begin.  You be the judge.

Here are the excerpts:

Arntzen danced around the question before saying, “I do need to share with you that when I did ask that question, and I did a lot of traveling, it was not on the number one. The number one was making sure I had a teacher that’s there. So I do believe in our tight, fiscal minds, we have to say that wish list is big. That wish list is there and it’s on that list. But at this opportunity time, is that it? But again, I’m going to reiterate, if the Legislature does so happen, because it would take that opportunity to occur, if that happens, then I would do that within my power and with your energy in this room, to put that forward for our neediest and our youngest. I will not impede that.”

Arntzen then talked about education budget cuts and ensuring a bright future for students before adding, “And yes, my granddaughter, I’m blessed. Working parents, both of them are. And it is a difficult thing for child care, but I look at you, you don’t take care of that child. You’re educators. You educate that whole spirit, that whole mind. Yes, the whole mind you educate. And you educate the body. You cannot get to that entire end unless you have taken care of everything, and that’s very important. So with that, it is up to them. I would not impede it. If it is the wish, then that would be the case. Thank you.”

Later she discussed the ACT test:

“This is a free test,” Arntzen said. “Some of these students have never been to college before and to allow them that opportunity to say ‘I could go to college,’ that was what the whole purpose of this is. So what occurred with the last administration in the heat of the hour for filling in these with false numbers, does shed some darkness on that, but we’re going to plow through with lightness because it is about putting our Montana students first.”

“That’s why we’re having a very robust discussion with the federal government,” Arntzen said. “It’s in transition as well and we need to make sure that Montana is as harmless as possible because it does affect our kids. The ultimate thing of any non-compliant with the federal government is that we’re trying to do a work around, we’re doing everything we can. It’s about communication. So whatever didn’t happen, we’re putting 10 more issues into it to make sure Montana is harmless. It’s about our kids.”

“There was also a grant that occurred, and I did sign that letter because here’s the deal, if the money is not there, what happens to those young ones? What happens to that need? You cannot bind one legislative session to another. We’ve had education cuts before. What happens to them? We can’t be rash. We have to be sincere in going forward and making sure that that pathway is as bright and robust for all of those students that are there.

“And yes, my granddaughter, I’m blessed. Working parents, both of them are. And it is a difficult thing for childcare, but I look at you, you don’t take care of that child. You’re educators. You educate that whole spirit, that whole mind. Yes, the whole mind you educate. And you educate the body. You cannot get to that entire end unless you have taken care of everything, and that’s very important. So with that, it is up to them. I would not impede it. If it is the wish, then that would be the case.

“Thank you.”


62 Comments on "Could Elsie Arntzen Be Recalled?"

  1. One thing that I hate most about the modern vile, loathsome, rightwing, fascist, fundamentalist, tea bagger Republican party in Montana has been their unfounded, uncalled for, gratuitous attacks on the one group least deserving of their attacks and the most deserving of our praise, our schools and our teachers. These fascists make me want to puke when I see them attack our teachers.

    I have lived and worked all over Montana for the last fifty years. I have been in probably fifty different schools and met many educators. And I have yet to see one school that I thought was doing a poor job. And every teacher I met was a dedicated professional devoting their lives to helping kids. So why are the baggers attacking this group over non-existent problems? It simply doesn’t make sense. There are no greater advocates for children in this state than our teachers. If there are, whom might that be? The baggers? Or the Fundies?

    It all seemed to start when that idiot Rob Natelson came to Montana. It has been down hill ever since. And now, it’s out of control. Anyone who is concerned about our children and their education must start fighting back, for the fascists have their base motivated to attack.

    I thought that Tammy Lacey did a fantastic job of questioning Ms. Arntzen. She did for us what we should all be doing. She advocated for the kids. That is what teachers do on a daily basis. I called her office and let her know. I think we all should so that she knows that she’s not alone in this fight. And I thanked her for educating my own kids and now my grandkids. 268-6000

    • If Elsie Arnesen were a product of the Montana public school system, I’d seriously look into the health and wellbeing of her alma mater. Her grammar is cringe-worthy.

      • Old Line Democrat | January 28, 2017 1:26 PM at 1:26 PM |

        I don’t know where she was educated but I do know she was a teacher in the Billings public schools apparently moved from place to place like the child molesting priests were moved from parish to parish. And no it was not the teachers union protecting her it was administrators being unwilling to do their jobs early on.

  2. This is set up by a dual job description. #1 implement Party mission. #2 Supervise Montana Office of Public Instruction. Shame on the GOP for putting Elsie Arntzen in over her head with #2 Job Description!

    Which Legislators promoted Arntzen?

    Please consider letter and spirit of law. No sense in getting mad and slandering Elsie Arntzen. Or worse.
    MCA 45-7-102 (iii) threatens harm to any public servant or party official, the person’s spouse, child, parent, or sibling, or the person’s property with the purpose to influence the person to violate the person’s duty or to prevent the public servant or party official from accepting or holding any public office;

  3. After reading this, I was all motivated to write a scathing comment. But going back through the brain-dead nattering of this new Director of OPI, I’m at a loss for words.

    I finally arrived at what actually seems to be a faint reason for hope, though. A person this stupid and incoherent is probably going to be so ineffectual that she won’t be able to do much of the damage she obviously intends.

  4. I couldn’t read it all. But it reminds me of “word salad”. In case you don’t know what that is…
    Further reading…

  5. I could not read it. It was like another language, like jibberish. Could someone in her office provide a coherent translation of what she was saying.

    Bad thought, she took speaking lessons from Sarah Palin.

  6. Wow, pretty standard stuff for republicans.

  7. I’ve been wondering where Sarah Palin went

  8. Editorial comment: A couple of these paragraphs are repeated, which makes it sound all the more incoherent. I don’t question the accuracy of the quotes, but doubt that she said the same gibberish twice.

  9. You are presuming that there would be a press to call her out on this. That article is good, but, the citizenry would need to be dramatically more organized and informed to pull off a recall. Remember, she was incoherent during the election, too. She was unintelligible during the debates.

  10. The MCA reference should be 2.16.603

  11. Also, if I read the constitution correctly, if she were to be recalled, the vacant position would be filled by…a gubernatorial appointment!

  12. I knew this woman was a nut job, but the lack of proofreading and revision on this blog hurts the credibility of the article. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see her recalled, but if you are going to point the finger at her incoherence you should make sure your blog is well written and presented.

  13. She sounds like she’s related to trump.

  14. Damn she’s got some good acid!

  15. Probably hanging with Scott Boggio before the meting

  16. WTF – As long a “Montana is harmless…:

    And, yes, definitely a student of Palin.

  17. WTF – As long a “Montana is harmless…:

    And, yes, definitely a student of Palin.

    “Already said that?” Where and when? What are you talking about?!?

  18. As long a “Montana is harmless…”

    And, yes, definitely a student of Palin.

    “Already said that?” Where and when? What are you talking about?!?

  19. She speaks Yoda-English.

  20. The woman had a cross on her campaign sign. What did people expect? Christianity over children, fantastic. Kudos to Tammy Lacey.

    • Here she is fulfilling her #1 Job Description; Implementing Party Mission. Bearing false witness against Democrats. Doing a staged gotcha act, that a grand fraud was involved with MT ACT Scores.
      Of course terminating Graduation Matters was her initial fullillment of her #1 Job Description; implementing Party Mission, principles and principals. ((Then her OK to put a new Republican name on an ongoing Washington foundation program helping marginalized kids to Graduate. Purge the Demcratic name from OPI. Symbolic changes are critical, in the Koch players handbook.))
      Well, last night I heard from locals of a third example where the current Head of OPI fulfilled her Political Mission Job Description, but flat failed to fullfill her real Job Description.
      imo local control of local Public Education is worth fighting for.
      If the current OPI Head continues to work against Public Education work to protect Public Education.
      That’s easy to say, but look again how people voted in your County voted for Arntzen.
      Keep talking with locals.
      My own conclusion; time to be locally evaluating merits and costs of a recall petition while evaluating Political solutions.
      If our MT OPI Head is fulfilling expectations of 1/3 of Montana, and failing to fulfill the described job we Voted for, then this has become a very sad mess. A tragedy that could get worse so certainly Party Officials and individuals are engaging in problem solving.
      Let’s be watching what they do.
      A stitch in time saves nine.

  21. Unfortunately she sounds like a dry drunk in this presentation. Her comments could apply to certain rural areas in Montana where family members involved and active in preschool care. Mathematically,it’s a very small percent. A critical analysis of the dichotic needs of our schools, rural and urban, is what Juneau and others worked to identify. I am afraid we have lost that with Arntzen. The agenda to get public lands, including school trusts, is why she was chosen by the GOP. We have many reasons to be concerned. Why was she elected? She fit the GOP template as a lapdog. She’s white, traditional and many democrats did not vote in this election. Rural republicans always do.

  22. Our own Sarah Plain. Two peas (bimbos) in a pod. Word salad idiots.

  23. The problem is, Trump talks exactly that way. His speeches are incoherent when transcribed. When viewed, they are horrifying, but his followers seem to, well, follow the wandering thread punctuated by applause lines and come away feeling fired up, if no more enlightened.

  24. After reading this it sounds less like illiteracy and more as if she is striving for eloquence while really drunk. She is no Churchill or Hitchens that’s for certain.

  25. She and the lady defending from bear attacks make a thought provoking pair.

  26. i’m not a big fan of recalls – they seldom succeed and increase polarization. I am a fan of people voting and an informed electorate.

  27. This is an opportunity for Arntzen to follow the lead of her esteemed fuhrer, Trump, by having employees at the OPI explain what she said or meant.

  28. I am sure that she has a whole lot of mis-firing synapse. Like an old pin ball machine.

  29. What is going on in a state that by all reports is fairly literate? I cannot believe this person is associated with the state’s education system even in a very peripheral position such as … no, I’ve known entry level janitorial people who are more literate and able to express themselves much better than this woman can. Scary. So glad I decided when I got my doc not to move to your state to work.

  30. I love this blog, but you need to learn how to fucking edit. You can’t go after someone for being illiterate when your post is chock full of redundancies, double quotes, and misplaced letters. It makes you look just as stupid as Arntzen. Fix your shit before you post it.

  31. Elections have consequences – live in the now !

  32. Elsie reminds me of SNL’s ‘church lady’ but now she’s the ‘churchy’ lady in charge of our PUBLIC schools….

  33. Elsie doesn’t grasp what it’s like to be Gracious in victory, while Denise was dignified in defeat. Elsie doesn’t have the good judgement to keep what WORKS, no matter who established a worthy program.

  34. After reading this, I actually have no clue what she actually said. I’m an older person, educated in the east, but do have fear for the children of Montana. Montana seems like a great place to grow up, but when legislators such as Arntzen are elected, it seems like retrograde motion

  35. I don't need School I have Google ! | January 28, 2017 7:05 PM at 7:05 PM |

    The problem should be fixed now, Sarah Palin and Trump were both blamed. Trump just got into office and I never could find when Sarah Palin ran Montana. Why has our Idiot or Racist in Chief Obama not been mentioned? Maybe Obama for 8 years trying to turn the country into a third world nation has noting to do with Montana’s education system. The country survived Obama , the teachers will survive her. Give them a little bit of credit.

    • Old Line Democrat | January 29, 2017 7:11 AM at 7:11 AM |

      Now this is hard core trolling. Following the recipe of Steve Bannon et al to distort the facts and distract from the issue at hand.
      The point is that Artzen is an incompetent elected by fanaticism not qualification. We simply can not be distracted from these simple truths. If we let them, they will run rough shod over our norms and change the fiber of our state and country.

    • I think that you’re misreading people’s comments. They aren’t blaming Trump and Palin for the problem. They’re saying that Arntzen, Trump, and Palin all share the same apparent inability to follow the rules of English grammar, and the same apparent inability to express coherent thoughts.

      • I didn’t misunderstand anyone’s comments.
        I was pointing out that this technique of spewing unintelligible sentences of “talking points ” or buzzwords is not a reflection of illiteracy but an example of a means to distract the consumers of the information while the dirty work is being done behind the scenes. Ell Artzen has been in the right wing fringe of the Montana Legislarure for years. While she might be incompetent to run OPI, that is not her purpose. It is her intent to destroy public education as we know it in favor of private religious schools. They intend on using taxpayer monies to support their religious ideals. These include the science deniers like Gianfote and that crowd.
        These folks want you to be distracted by outrage over their grammar while they destroy our public institutions.
        This is exactly the same as what is currently occurring with Trump and his executive orders binge. A ban on some immigration is banned and the media goes nuts meanwhile they replaced the director of national intelligence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the national security council permanent seats with Steve Bannon. It’s all part of a pattern of distraction and covert action that the majority are either unable or unwilling to accept. It very well may be too late. Once Trumps cronies get their pick on the Supreme Court not even the Constitution will protect us from their insane plans. The worst is that we brought this on ourselves. They told us they were going to be this radical but apparently a lot of people didn’t believe them.

  36. Michael L. Pedersen | January 28, 2017 10:00 PM at 10:00 PM |

    The lunatics are running the asylum.

  37. She should ask for her money back from her undergrad institution. They obviously didn’t teacher her anything! I’ve been challenging English teachers to diagram one of her sentences.

  38. My biggest concern is not Elsie on her own because we’ve already seen that she’s not going to be effective and she hand-picked a personal staff that will take three years just to learn the language of education. It just makes her office a prime candidate for whatever form of crazy DeVoss makes up nationally. A strong OPI, even a Republican one, can work around it, an Arntzen OPI will buy-in because they don’t have their own message.

  39. Phillip Roth supossedly said that Trump doesn’t speak English, he speaks “Jerkish”. Arntzen seems to speak the same language as Trump, and Palin does as well.

    I understand that in an effort to analyse the language ability of chimpanzees, the term jerkish was adopted from “knee-jerk” as the chimps reacted in a knee-jerk fashion after hearing a word they recognised or attempted to express a need. It’s simply blurting out the first thing that comes into your head followed up by a stream of consciousness rant. The chimps reportedly possessed a 225 word vocabulary which is propably more than Arntzen, Trump and Palin have combined.

  40. Question for you bloggers: Some time ago Ms. Arntzen was associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a well organized, moneyed group of conservatives who write legislation at all levels of our governments, including at the local level. My question: Does anyone know if this association between Ms. Arntzen and ALEC still exists?

    • Even if no evidence of a recent relationship with ALEC exists with Elsie, most Montanans should at least demand of her a relationship with logic and the ability to communicate. Elsie’s nonsensical and dissonant responses clearly demonstrate a lack of both which should make parents fear for the future of their children’s education. You must wonder if Elsie’s placement as Montana’s education czar was a strategic attempt to leave our public education in ruins in order to demonstrate the need for privatized education. Either way, Montana students are bound for a sub par and ideological based education.

  41. JRG Going back to the smokescreen theory, are we all going to let this gobble-de-gook distract us from Arntzen’s totally ignoring Montana law MCA 20-3-103 and 20-3-104 by hiring staff without the required school work experience? Not having a clue is no excuse for her incompetence.

    • Took days, but now getting down to basics!
      Uff da! Who else but ALEC?
      Please someone step forward and make high value Comment.
      Perhaps she’s just a maverick, and that makes for a more interesting storyline, than being one of the ALEC re-educated Legislators now following their principles and Principals in Helena.
      How about some brave group introducing Legislation that would transition 20-3-104//4 from MAY to SHALL appoint Staff with quantified experience in Education.
      Change the Law, and Order may follow.
      For instance compare Elsie Arntzen Staff with Denise Juneau Staff.

  42. MCA 20-3-103; and 20-3-104
    My old eyes and tablet and tiny window box to type into =

  43. She is speaking in tongues, just like her mentor. It’s not meant to be understood by the non-saved.

  44. I taught English in a Montana school system for 34 years and was active in MATE (Montana Association of Teachers of English). All I can say after reading Elsie’s words is, good grief, who voted for her?

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