Elections Matter: Montana Teacher of the Year Program

Last week, new Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen announced her intent to take control of the Montana Teacher of the Year Program . . . and she invited an unknown number of folks to assist her in doing so.
Some of you may have received her request.  I even did.  Scroll to the bottom of this email.  Amazing.
A number of folks have asked if we agreed to hand the Montana Teacher of the Year Program over to Elsie . . . or what.
No, we did not agree to hand it over.  We are proud of the 22 year investment we have made in the program.  Working through the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation, we took the program from not much more than a news release to a huge celebratory event and professional development opportunities for Montana teachers all across our state.  In fact, we first created the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation to sponsor and grow the Montana Teacher of the Year Program. 
So, no, we did not agree.  But Elsie is empowered to do so if she wishes.   She is a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers.  CCSSO sponsors the National Teacher of the Year Program.  For 22 years the foundation has nominated each of our Montana Teachers of the Year for the national honor.  They have all scored well.   Any one of them could have been named National Teacher of the Year.  During all this time, CCSSO did nothing to assist us in our administration and promotion of their program in our state.  CCSSO was perfectly pleased with our sponsorship and the outstanding candidates we put forward.  We designed and delivered a “Strong Teacher of the Year Program” that Elsie will be hard pressed to duplicate much less exceed.  But Elsie has presence and a vote at CCSSO.  We do not. 
Elections have consequences.  This is one of them.  Small perhaps but indicative of how Elsie looks upon her role as our superintendent.  She will take the best of what other folks have been doing such as the Montana Teacher of the Year Program and make them her own where she can stand at the front of the room and pretend to be the teacher leader she is not . . . or inexplicably trash them as she did Graduation Matters
6:00 pm, October 19, Hilton Garden Inn, Missoula, in conjunction with the annual MEA-MFT Educators’ Conference, the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation will present what may well be its last Montana Teacher of the Year Celebration. 
At that time we will feature the current Montana Teacher of the Year Kelly Elder and introduce this year’s three finalist one of whom will become the 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year.  A proud time for them.  A proud time for the Montana teaching profession.  A proud time for us.
Everyone is welcome to come.  Even Elsie.

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