What Is Montana’s Most Important Resource?

Roy Brown says he wants to adequately fund Montana schools…sometime. Not, of course, when he served in the Legislature, nor when his Party adopted an extremist agenda about education during the last Legislative session, nor during a time of large surpluses in state budgets. In fact, rather than advocate for more school funding, he and his running mate suggested the entire surplus be returned, without concern for schools.

This might be a principled, if wrong, position, if Brown believed that schools were adequately funded today. He doesn’t. He told the Missoulian that schools are struggling financially. Essentially, Senator Brown is talking out of both sides of his mouth: he is trying to appeal to anti-education, anti-school wing of his own party while pretending to appeal to the the vast majority of Montanans, who do support their schools and teachers.

What’s more, despite the fact that he acknowledges that schools are struggling, Brown proposes waiting to solve the problem, until after he waves a magic wand and brings back steady, non-polluting, local economy developing means of resource extraction. How many years of schooling will students have to wait, under Senator Brown’s proposal?

At the same time, Montana will struggle to develop its most important resource, its students, whose schools were so badly defunded under Republican “leadership” in the 1980s and 1990s. 

When you cast your ballot for the leadership of this state, you can ask yourself a simple question: is our most important resource the children who will create businesses, volunteer in our communities, and enrich our lives, or is it natural resources, whose benefits will largely be accrued by multinational corporations?

I think the answer is clear to most of us. 

(Cross-posted at Pogreba-Neiffer ’08)

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