MISSOULA—Today Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and his running mate Casey Schreiner were joined by candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Melissa Romano and MFPE President Amanda Curtis to release their “Brighter Montana Future” education plan to protect the health and safety of Montana students and teachers, reduce college debt and build the state’s workforce, invest in Montana’s future leaders and support good-paying jobs for Montanans.
“Now more than ever we must be close partners protecting the health and safety of Montana’s students and teachers while ensuring our kids are receiving the highest quality education to set them up for future success,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney. “Casey and I are both products of Montana public schools, and we’re invested in supporting them through the COVID-19 crisis to make sure we come out stronger and more resilient as a result.”
“As a father of three young kids heading back to school tomorrow, I know firsthand the challenges facing Montana families in the coming weeks,” said Casey Schreiner, Cooney’s running mate. “During these unprecedented times, we need strong leaders who are going to work together with local communities, school districts and with our partners in the legislature to provide our schools with the resources they need to succeed.”
“This is a critical time in our children’s education and we should be doing everything we can to invest in their futures, including funding for high quality public pre-K to support Montana’s earliest learners,” Melissa Romano, Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction said. “We cannot have their best interests at heart if we are burning bridges instead of building them. Montanans need strong leadership to advocate for our teachers and children and move our state forward and that is what we are ready to do on day one.”
“It’s hard to find a public servant who has done more for Montana’s public education system than Mike Cooney, and I couldn’t be happier that he chose my union brother – a former public school teacher himself – Casey Schreiner to join his ticket.” said Amanda Curtis, President of Montana Federation of Public Employees. “Make no mistake about it – Greg Gianforte will eliminate our union and privatize Montana education as his first and second orders of business in the state legislature, if we allow him to be elected. We can’t let that happen. Mike and Casey are the leaders we need. Mike and Casey are the leaders we deserve. Their Brighter Montana Future plan is the right plan for Montana educators and students, and I look forward to working with them to make sure we’re able to get it done.”
Brighter Future Montana Plan
Now more than ever, Montana must protect and invest in our public education system. During these unprecedented times, the state must be a close partner in protecting the health and safety of Montana’s students, teachers, support personnel and administrators while ensuring our kids are receiving the high quality education they need to set them up for success in the future.
Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney is a proud product of Butte public schools, and his running mate Casey Schreiner is a former public school teacher and lifelong union member. Working with Gov. Bullock, Mike and Casey have made record investments in K-12 education, frozen college tuition, and supported Montana’s two-year and tribal colleges. After leading the fight to fund universal pre-K for Montana’s youngest students last session, Mike and Casey will get it done.
Once elected, Mike and Casey will ensure Montana schools and educators have the tools and resources they need to protect the health and safety of Montana kids, invest in Montana’s education system, from pre-K to adult education, and work hand-in-hand with the private sector to help schools meet the in-demand occupations of a 21st century economy.
Mike and Casey are running against New Jersey millionaire Greg Gianforte, who has called public schools a “monopoly” and supports diverting public funds to private schools and charter schools which only benefit the wealthy, like himself. Gianforte has donated millions of dollars to a private school in Bozeman that discriminates against kids with disabilities and funded a creationist museum that teaches the earth is 6,000 years old and humans walked with dinosaurs.
The Montana Federation of Public Employees (MFPE), Montana’s largest union, representing thousands of K-12 teachers, faculty and support personnel in Montana public schools, colleges and universities, endorsed Mike and Casey’s campaign and condemned Gianforte’s candidacy earlier this year.
Article X of Montana’s Constitution simply states:
It is the goal of the people to establish a system of education which will develop the full educational potential of each person. Equality of educational opportunity is guaranteed to each person of the state.
Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and Casey Schreiner are committed to living up to that goal. In doing so, the Cooney Administration will work collaboratively with the Office of Public Instruction, the Board of Public Education, the Commission of Higher Education and the Board of Regents to provide the best quality public education for all Montanans.
Protecting the Health & Safety of Montana Students
- Supply students and schools with the tools they need to support remote learning, technology upgrades, and related expenses amidst the unprecedented toll the COVID-19 pandemic has caused Montana’s education system.
- Create and maintain a school lunch debt waiver program for Montana kids. The COVID-19 pandemic has created great food uncertainty for many families and this support is needed now more than ever.
- Permanently provide inflationary increases in Special Education funding to ensure Montana kids with disabilities have equal access to a free quality public education.
Reduce College Debt and Build the State’s Workforce
- Increase funding for education at two-year institutions in the state, including tribal and community colleges.
- Expand Career and Technical Education in middle and high schools to allow Montana students to prepare for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers.
Investing in Montana’s Future Leaders
- Establish state-funded, voluntary pre-K education for all four-year-olds in Montana.
- Extend college tuition freeze at Montana’s four year and flagship colleges and universities.
- Adopt a Student Borrower Bill of Rights and enforce a statewide industry standard for student loan servicers to guard against unfair, deceptive, and predatory student loan practices.
Support Good-Paying Jobs for Montanans
- Enhance the Quality Educator Payment to help school districts better recruit and retain educators across Montana.
- Increase the Apprenticeship Tax Credit program to provide for hiring Montanans who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Protect public pension systems to keep Montana’s promise to our employees and to recruit and retain the best public service professionals in education and state government.