By Roger Koopman

Roger Koopman is a former legislator, a current Public Service Commissioner, and the president of Montana Conservative Alliance.

Imagine this.  Student to teacher:  “I need the day off to go protest global warming.   My parents wouldn’t approve, but it’s something I simply must do.  Any problem with that?”  Teacher to student:  “Of course not, Johnny.  You have every right to protest and to express your personal political beliefs.  We won’t count you as absent.”

When I was a school kid, if I tried to pull off something like that – to protest the Vietnam War or whatever – I would be told that I had a great sense of humor, and then instructed to get back to my seat and get to work.

In most communities, Montana taxpayers are paying approximately $10,00 per student per year to attend public school.  Some places are significantly higher.  State funding requires attendance, consistent with the state’s mandatory attendance law.  Local property taxpayers likewise assume that the thousands of dollars they send to their county’s public schools each year will go toward educating all enrolled students – not just those who want to show up.

That assumption was recently proven wrong, when school administrations in high school districts across the state wimpishly gave students a day off, to participate in a political rally promoting leftwing politics and leftwing solutions to the so-called “climate crisis.”  Reading, writing and arithmetic took a back seat on that day to climate politics, with students being released from class to scream, chant, wail and otherwise join their young and naïve’ voices to an organized movement deriding their parents for inaction, and demanding that “something be done” before the world melts away before our very eyes.

Frankly, this is would-class hogwash, and the best of the best of America’s scientists have been honest and courageous enough to say just that. The fact that so many students are drawn to this calamitous – and ridiculous – appeal is an indictment of the biased curriculum that exists in our local schools.  From what I can tell, only one side of the man-made climate change debate is ever presented for students to consider.  It is a classic example of indoctrination replacing education, and young people being told that there is only one way to think. 

But there is an even more fundamental question that reaches beyond the concerns of political bias masquerading as education.  What in the world are public school administrators doing, to excuse students from a day of classwork to attend a political rally organized by out-of-town leftist activists?  Is this what we believed our tax dollars would pay for -- a day off, to agitate for leftwing social and political change?

This begs the question, what would students be told if they wished to attend a pro-life rally, or a demonstration promoting conservative or Christian values, and demanding a return to the principles of the Constitution?  Do you think there is any chance they would be let out of school for events like that?  Unfortunately, our public school systems are largely captured by the intolerant politics of the left.  In most Montana schools, allowing a day off to support a conservative or pro-life cause would be quickly forbidden.

I for one am very tired of this.  If our local high schools are willing to arrange for left-wing pressure groups to pick up their students at the school’s front door and deliver them into the hands of leftwing organizers and protesters, then they need to understand that they have just relinquished the tax support for one day of schooling.  If they are going to take the importance of the school day so lightly, then they need to give taxpayers back the money for those "leftwing politics” days and quit pretending that those were school days at all.  Education is not protesting politically correct causes at the time when students are supposed to be in class.

I suggest you write your local school district, if them have participated in this sham, and demand that your taxes for that day be returned to you.  Maybe that will cause them to think twice next time, before they deliver their students over to radical activists who are using them as political pawns.

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