OPI to take over state Teacher of the Year program; teachers union opposes move | Local

Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen has wrangled the Montana Teacher of the Year program away from the state teachers’ union and placed it under Office of Public Instruction control.

This action comes less than a year after a pair of Montana Teachers of the Year appeared in teachers union-bought television spots stumping for Arntzen’s Democrat opponent.

Most other state education departments across the country run their teacher of the year programs, which are sponsored by the national Council of Chief State School Officers. The move was well within Arntzen’s authority and will take effect for the 2018-19 school year. But union officials who opposed Arntzen’s candidacy have been further rankled by the switch.

Arntzen, a Republican, notified MEA-MFT that she would be bringing the program into OPI about six weeks ago, said union President Eric Feaver. The union oversees the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation, which administered the Teacher of the Year program and other professional development and certification programs.

He declined an invitation to visit with OPI officials and a CCSSO representative about the program’s switch and didn’t want to hand it over in the first place.

“It’s kind of like asking us to train her to do our job,” Feaver said.

OPI spokesman Dylan Klapmeier was hopeful the foundation would choose to join a group OPI is assembling to figure out how a new selection process will work. He said that details for a new selection process would be developed over the coming months.

“It’s important that they have a voice in the process,” he said.

He said that the ads last fall didn’t play into the decision to move the program under OPI.

“I would not say that the program is politicized right now, but the superintendent has certainly expressed…

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