Elsie Arntzen and Betsy DeVos

Go West Betsy DeVos, Go West from THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD

Yesterday Superintendent Elsie Arntzen invited the U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos to visit Montana. Nothing surprising here and nothing new at all. To Arntzen’s credit it’s something she should be doing. It’s good for Elsie to take a step with the right foot for once given the past couple of weeks she’s had, even though she’s only been in office a few weeks. So why would this rise to the level of yet another post? Click the link, read it, read it twice. It’ll take a couple of times to sift through the poor writing.

Of its several oddities is her reference to Montana as a ‘frontier’ state and having frontier-school‘frontier schools’. Do you suppose she’s referencing some old map that shows the region as a frontier or is Elsie trying to lure DeVos out on a long train ride and then a stagecoach trip from Havre to Helena? Perhaps DeVos will have the good fortune to shoot a few buffalo from the window of the train as it passes a grazing heard. Or it could be that Arntzen is just trying to personify a mystique from days of old now that Montana has finally broken into the current century with indoor plumbing, electricity, cable TV, and grizzly bear free schools!

So really, Arntzen deserves a gold star for getting her letter out. She wants to showcase her office and Montana’s ‘frontier’ schools. Now comes the oddity from yet another email tip.

Tim Tharp, Interim Deputy Superintendent sent out an email to all staff at OPI letting them know he’d be visiting with them soon to understand how they ‘contribute’ to OPI. Had the transition gone more smoothly over the last month this would seem like a reasonable gesture. In reality the new administration has no clue about the day to day functions of OPI and now they need to find out just what they are doing. Tharp intends to ask five simple questions and get to know each OPI employee in just five minutes; sort of like six minute abs. One can only imagine the questions: ‘What is your quest?’ ‘What is the wind velocity of an African Swallow?’ ‘If you were a tree, what kind of a tree would you be?’ ‘Hammer or nail?’ ‘X-ray vision or gills?’. How does Arntzen plan to bring Devos up to speed about education in Montana when she truly doesn’t know? Perhaps that’s really a rhetorical question since it insinuates that DeVos knows something about education as well. Maybe together using DeVos’ twitter pencil they can figure out the three “R’s” of education.

Fun Family Feud question: What do Arntzen and DeVos have in common? Survey says…A vote from Steve Daines!


5 Comments on "Elsie Arntzen and Betsy DeVos"

  1. Actually, Montana is a frontier state. Our population density is about 6 people per square mile. That has consequences for how services are provided and what services are available. Add to this the fact that there really are no population centers in Montana. In many states there are one or maybe two population centers. In Montana, there are maybe six, each different and each separated by significant distances.

    I suspect that Arntzen is trying to romanticize the frontier nature of Montana. And, I fear for our schools under her leadership. But, we really are a frontier state, and we really do need to grapple with what that means for providing services and doing politics.

  2. Ask not what OPI can do for you, but what you can do for OPI.

  3. Please let us know Betsy and Elsie’s itinerary.
    We have some really great posters on sticks we’d like to show them!

  4. I suspect Elsie Arntzen will be less like Betsy DeVos and more like Michelle Rhee. These top-down memos announcing personal visits from managers; who will ‘meet and then question’ each employee — Heinrich Himmler would be salivating… it provokes a delicious shiver up an employee’s spine. This by the way, was Michelle Rhee’s signature method of torture.

    I predict Elsie will be authoritarian. She will manage by her own value assumptions:
    1) School Choice (the marketplace is in favor – government is out of favor)
    2) Metrics (do or die)
    3) Teacher compensation — Incentives Only. No more collective bargaining; no more tenure; the monarchy will determine whether individual teachers are radiating ‘pay-worthy’ performance.
    4) Schools may be closed on short notice and with little public or parental input.
    5) There will be personnel reductions
    6) Employees will be interrogated

    Five Interrogatories out the gate:
    1) Please give me five reasons – convincing me that I should allow you to continue to teach. You have one minute and twenty seconds. Begin.

  5. Merv, you have good reasons that Amanda Curtis would well Represent Montana in the Big House. What are your reasons for coming here to show your disgust at DIM’S? What’s your reasoning in coming here to vomit and trash talk?
    Your Comments speak against your credibility to advocate for Representative Curtis.
    Merv, someday after we’re gone there will be a Montana blog with a sidebar to Comments from Seniors.

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