Jore Appointed Chair of Education Committee

Controlling the balance of power has some perks. In this case, the Republicans in the Montana State House have decided to keep Constitution Party legislator Rick Jore happy by making him the chairman of the House Education Committee.

From the Great Falls Tribune...

Republican leaders are giving the House Education Committee chairmanship to the Legislature’s only third-party member, a Constitution Party lawmaker who opposes more money for public schools.

The rare appointment of a third-party member to chair a committee — especially in his first session after a six-year hiatus from politics — comes as the GOP courts Rick Jore and his swing vote. Republicans control the chamber by a slim 50-49 margin.

Jore said he never specifically asked for the chairmanship.

“Quite frankly, I was surprised,” said Jore, a Ronan resident who served as a Republican legislator in the 1990s before switching parties.

Jore, who wants to abolish compulsory school attendance, promised to be “respectful of every viewpoint and all witnesses that come before” his committee.

The appointment is causing a stir, with critics saying it could cause problems for plans to offer all-day kindergarten in Montana and to spend some of the state’s surplus on schools.

Public-education advocates said the appointment could point to the direction the Republican caucus will go under the leadership of conservative Scott Sales of Bozeman, set to become House speaker when the Legislature convenes in January.

“Those of us who believe in public education will have to quarrel with a legislator who doesn’t,” said Eric Feaver, president of the MEA-MFT union. “Now I’m not sure that the guys in charge of the Republican caucus believe in public education.”

Republican leaders dismissed the criticism, saying the education community opposed Sales and other Republicans in elections.

“I don’t recall the education community supporting the speaker, or myself either,” said House Republican leader Mike Lange of Billings. “They didn’t win. That’s the bottom line. If they want to control the committee, my recommendation to them is to be better at campaigning than they were.

“We owe them no explanation whatsoever.”

The Constitution Party platform seeks to abolish the federal Department of Education, and Jore is critical of education standards being set at the state level.

“My position is that, insofar as authority goes, is that parents and guardians are the final authority regarding the educational setting of children,” Jore said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch, a Democrat who served with Jore in the Legislature in the 1990s when he was a Republican, said most Montanans believe in public education and want some of the state’s surplus spent on improving the system.

“So it’s very disappointing that the House leadership, and very telling of their position on public education, that they put someone who wants to abolish public education as chairman of the education committee,” she said. “The fact is that 93 percent of kids in Montana go to public schools. And their parents expect the Legislature to support their schools.”

Travis McAdam of the Montana Human Rights Network said, “The GOP has turned the future of public education in Montana over to a person who doesn’t think public schools should be funded or have students attending them.”

But Jore said he aims to bring accountability to the system, not through state mandates but by giving parents the choice, such as tax breaks if they don’t send their children to public schools.

Jore said he will uphold the Montana Constitution and its commitment to public education.

“I have been very clear. I do not think additional money is needed for the schools,” Jore said. “I think the focus needs to be on accountability rather than additional funding.”

6 Responses to “Jore Appointed Chair of Education Committee”

  1. Joe Says:

    Way to go Rick! This certainly sounds like a great victory for those of us opposed to government schools.

  2. Nigel Watt Says:

    I’m glad that they appointed him to that committee, where he’ll be doing essentially the same thing a Libertarian would - I’d hate to have him appointed to something where his Constitution Party Bible-banging would come out to play.

  3. matt Says:

    Not all CPers are Bible-Bangers. There’s closedmindedness there, but there’s also a little diversity. Jore doesn’t equal Peroutka.

  4. RCAIP Says:

    Interesting appointment.

    And FYI Rick still is maintaining his ties to the national CP.

  5. Eric Dondero Says:

    You know what’s amazing is that nobody has picked up on the fact that there’s a Libertarian Party guy in the Montana State Senate. Jerry O’Neil is the Senator from south of Kallispell. He also serves on the State Libertarian Party Board as the LP’s Secretary. Jerry is both a Republican and a Big ‘L’ Libertarian.

    All this fanfare about Jore is great. I wish him the best. And it sounds like he’s already stirring things up.

    But there’s been a Libertarian-Republican in the MT Senate for 8 years now.

  6. Stuart Richards Says:

    That’s actually pretty cool.

    Someone needs to compile a list of Libertarian Party members in government, whether they were elected as Libertarians or not.

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