HELENA – The pressures motivating teachers and other public employees to hold protests and rallies in places like Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kentucky reflect growing frustrations here in Montana.
The issue is money — how to pay for services and programs that parents expect and kids need at school.
Montana Education Association and Montana Federation of Teachers President Eric Feaver says while Montana’s education is better off than some states, we still face problems with teacher recruitment and retention, especially when it comes to hiring special education teachers and school counselors.
Feaver says while schools work to provide wrap-around services to help kids be productive students and eventually productive members of society, it’s getting harder to maintain the services we have.
“When it comes to providing the best education we can for our kids, right now we don’t have the capacity to do that and that has to do with obviously with state funding,” says Feaver.
“It also has to do with what people locally are able to surrender in terms of property taxes. We really do desperately need to address our revenue stream in this state and I believe that’s exactly what Oklahoma and West Virginia are all about.”
Feaver also says, “And every time expectations don’t meet what revenues are able to provide, you have trouble.”
Feaver says he doesn’t know of any solidarity protests currently planned here in Montana, but he says that may change when the 2019 Legislature convenes in January.