Eddie McClafferty

I have been a Montana State Legislator since 2009 and a public-school teacher since 2004. In past sessions, legislators of both parties have come together to keep public dollars in our public schools.

We have defeated bills bringing private corporate charter schools to Montana. We’ve said ‘no’ to bills inserting the legislature in between parents and their local schools. And we’ve resisted bills trying to dictate statewide curriculum. This session feels different.

Never before have I heard so many bills that bash public education. Legislators must remember that our local teachers, in our local schools, are hearing and feeling your attacks. And they hurt. They hurt because they do not reflect the realities of our great local schools.

In this war on public schools, we have been accused of overstepping our boundaries and telling parents how to raise their children. We have been accused of not wanting parents in our schools and blocking them from meetings. Why are we letting national politics break apart the relationships between our parents and our teachers?

We have been told that there is a need for more transparency. Teachers would need to submit every PowerPoint, lesson plan, and every worksheet for approval from the parents of every student in our classes. What other profession requires that level of micromanagement?  Why are those who want to push their own agenda trying to control our classrooms? If you want to know what I am teaching and how I am teaching, come to my class and join me. Learn what I am doing instead of just speculating.  My door, and the door of every Montana teacher, is open any time you want to stop by.

I know some of those who are trying to push their agenda prefer us not to teach anything that may include the word “sex.” But let’s face it, folks, when we teach biology, we talk about the reproductive systems. Should we not be teaching this? Imagine a world where we did not teach science because someone may learn where babies come from.

To all those who want to bash our teachers, I have to say: Stop this war on our public schools.

We teach because we enjoy working with and helping your children. We dedicate our lives to helping others learn so they may be successful and have a productive life. We teach because we have a lot to offer our students. We teach because we care.

Please don’t label all teachers as bad because of one bad experience or story you heard. There is a bad apple in every profession. Because one doctor makes the wrong diagnosis, that doesn’t mean all doctors are bad.  Because one lawyer cannot win a case, that doesn’t mean that all lawyers are bad. Let’s face it, it’s easier to label everyone when trying to push your own agenda.

To every Montana parent, I want you to know: You are and have always been part of your child’s education. Don’t let special interests create a wedge between you and your local school. Teachers and parents here in Montana are on the same side, building the best future for our children.

Fortunately, I still believe firmly that these attacks on teachers ring hollow to Montana families. We all recognize this outrage machine for what it is: misinformation being peddled by political operatives who want to drive a wedge behind Montana families and teachers.

Finally, I want to say thank you to all the teachers out there, each and every one of you. You really are appreciated.

Edie McClafferty is a state senator from Butte