By Tim Leeds
Helena resident Elaine Sollie Herman, 53, has declared her candidacy as a Republican for the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Sollie, who received a bachelor of science in elementary education from the University of Montana in 1968, has worked as a teacher and as an employee and a business owner in the private sector.
"I am a fourth-generation Montanan, and a fourth-generation educator," Herman said. "I take great pride in having been active in Montana's schools for 28 years as a student, parent and teacher."
Herman said her three top priorities include getting the education system's money into the classroom instead of losing it in the administrative process.
"We need to re-organize, prioritize and get that money into the classroom," she said.
Another of her priorities is to make make user-friendly schools, she said. She said the schools need to understand what it's like for a parent to send a child through the schools.
Her third top priority is to inspire the teachers to love their jobs, she said. She said with her experience she feels she can inspire the teachers.
"If the teachers love their jobs, the children will learn," she said. "It's a guaranteed formula."
Herman said that it is important for a superintendent to have both financial and business experience and education experience. She has 23 years of business experience and 10 years of classroom experience and graduate studies, she said.
Herman said that her goals include emphasizing that the school employees work for the parents and the parents are the customers.
The system should funnel the money for the system into the classroom and give the students better tools, teachers higher pay and parents greater satisfaction, she said.
She said that the schools should be teaching skills and knowledge that enable success, including 21st Century vision and old fashioned values and common sense.
Herman said that her experience in the private business sector will help her achieve fiscal responsibility in the Montana education system.
"When the system reflects the efficiency of the private sector, school officials will be viewed with respect," she said. "When the system operates with the efficiency of a well run business, higher pay for educators will follow. Children will be prized products and and parents will be pleased customers. Administrators will have fewer problems and our teachers will have greater satisfaction."
Herman said that as a former teacher and a parent, she understands the challenges in the classroom.
"The greatest hand-out we can give society is to educate our children to enable them to become financially independent," she said. "Basic skills and knowledge are the tools they need to reach their highest potential."