The Democratic state superintendent of public instruction in Havre Friday called on voters to re-elect her and to elect other Democrats to continue to fight for one of her passions — public education in Montana and in America.
“It was tough. It was really, really tough because there were people in that Legislature that do not believe in public education …, ” Denise Juneau said said during the Hill County Democrats Pasma-Peck Dinner. “We had people in the Legislature, the other party, who fought against that for 90 days, who showed up to privatize what we have in our communities, (what is) the heart of our communities. ”
She said she wants to be re-elected, and to continue some state level issues and programs she has started.
“I would like to continue being superintendent of public instrution, ” Juneau sad. “It’s a great job. I love it. ”
She said she, her staff and the Office of Public Instruction’s allies fought every day during the last legislative session to oppose ideas to give tax credits or vouchers for private education, to oppose starting charter schools, and other tactics raised by the legislators she characterized as trying to privatize education..
“Despite (the Republican) majority we fought back every one of (those bills), ” Juneau added.
She said the reason she ran for state superintendent four years ago, and the reason she is running again, is because she does believe in public education.
“I believe public education and public schools are the last great public venture we have going on in this country and this state, ” Juneau said, “the last one that’s open to all, that is the cornerstone in providing quality and access and opportunity for every student, every student, that walks through a public school’s door, and we have to keep it public. ”
She said she had two main issues at the last legislative session. One was a question she asked every time she appeared before a legislative committee, Juneau said.
She said she asked, “‘I just want you, committee, to tell me what you think is broken in our public education system. Name it. ’ And they never could. ”
That, Juneau said, is because the laws the legislators proposed didn’t fit Montana.
“They were taking national laws and trying to place them on Montana, ” she said. “That’s where they were coming from. ”
The other point she argued was that it is public education that is key to the state’s economic future, and privatizing it would harm Montana.
“We had to struggle every day and fight against that and make sure that they understood that the success of our public school systems leads to a future of economic success in this state, ” Juneau said.
She called on Hill County Democrats to prove they were, as their sign hung on the wall said, “Alive and kicking. ”
“You need to elect good people to state office, re-elect (Democratic U. S. Sen.) Jon Tester, ” she said.