A former Havre educator was in the nation’s capitol Thursday at a briefing for policy makers on issues in rural education.
Montana’s U. S. Sen. Max Baucus invited Bozeman Public Schools Superintendent Kirk Miller, a graduate of Havre High School and Northern Montana College, now Montana State University-Northern, to talk to lawmakers at a briefing on Baucus’ bill to create an Office of Rural Education.
“I’ve worked in school districts of all shapes and sizes across Montana, and I’ve seen firsthand the incredible educators and students our state has to offer, ” Miller said in a press release from Baucus’ office. “But I’ve also experienced the unique challenges we face as a rural state — challenges that are not always understood by decision makers in urban areas.
“Creating the Office of Rural Education is a visionary solution to ensure Montana has a seat at the table when the rules are being made, ” he added.
Miller taught at Havre High School, served as principal at Shepherd High School and superintendent of the Cascade school district and taught as an adjunct professor at Montana State University before serving as Havre Public Schools superintendent for 11 years. He left that position to take his job as Bozeman superintendent.
He was appointed to the Montana Board of Education in 1995, and served as its chair from 1999-2006.
“Folks in Washington need to understand that what works for D. C. and New York might not work for Montana. That's why it’s so important to bring Montana educators like Kirk here to tell our story, and it's also why we need an Office of Rural Education fighting for our kids and teachers, ” Baucus said in the release.
“Montana has some of the best teachers and brightest students around, and they deserve the chance to compete on a fair and level playing field. The Office of Rural Education will help make sure Montana schools have the tools they need to shine. ”
Baucus’ bill would
direct the Department of Education to create the Office of Rural Education within its existing budget. He said the timing of the bill is critical for Montana schools as Congress looks to begin revamping the No Child Left Behind Act, which is the major source of federal funding for elementary and secondary education.
He said the office would focus on making sure rural teachers and students have the tools they need to overcome rural challenges including:
• Small enrollments;
• Federal and state education funding inequities;
• Geographic isolation;
• Challenges in recruiting and retaining effective teachers and leaders;
• And limited access to advanced courses.
The bill has been endorsed by dozens of state and national associations, groups and centers.