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Education: Our kids can thrive under the Big Sky

Updated: Apr 10, 2022

Our hardworking kids shouldn’t have to leave the Flathead to build a life. However, with skyrocketing home prices and inflation on the rise, this is the top concern for many of the parents, young adults, educators, and employers I’m talking with every day.

One of the primary tools we possess to tackle this challenge is education. Through an increasingly targeted, proficiency-based approach to education, our kids will be qualified for the area’s highest-wage jobs. Not only that, the area’s best employers will have access to a larger, more prepared workforce and grandparents will enjoy more quality time with their grandbabies. The daughter of a Flathead High School teacher, I believe education provides a gateway to opportunity for us all.

As your representative for Montana House District 7, I will be a strong advocate for education that gives our kids the knowledge, experience, and tools they need to succeed in today’s market. Here’s how we do it:

Foster partnerships between schools and area employers

As your representative, I will be working both in and out of the session to help coordinate opportunities for our schools and employers to partner in providing internships, apprenticeships, and other hands-on learning experiences. As a successful business owner and recent Chair of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, I am well equipped to help foster partnerships between our employers and educators while learning from these groups about what legislation can help make these efforts most effective.

Advocating for proficiency-based learning such as stackable credits and dual credits

As a legislator, I will champion legislation that empowers our students to gain stackable credits and dual credits to accelerate their professional accreditation as part of their high school curriculum. For those familiar with dual credit courses where students gain college credit through coursework done at their high school, this is a similar premise but adapted for the work environment. A high school student interested in healthcare may work toward their certified nursing assistant (CNA) on their way to eventually pursuing an RN degree; another may start logging hours under an electrician in pursuit of their journeyman’s license.

Allowing students to learn at the pace that’s right for them

Our kids deserve to learn at a pace that sets them up to succeed – our current systems are working to adapt but we have a distance to go. We must continue to support legislation and classroom innovations that allow students who are struggling to slow down and those who are excelling to move ahead. Additionally, by incorporating more hands-on opportunities such as a geology week at Glacier National Park or math credits for working with a carpenter, we are allowing kids to explore and engage intelligence such as spatial, naturalistic, interpersonal, and kinesthetic that are not always tapped in the classroom.

Sometimes, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference – the practical steps we can see but perhaps haven’t taken before that lead us where we need to go. I am ready to step up and ask you to join me in advocating for a bright future for our community’s kids. As your ballots arrive in the coming weeks, please vote Courtenay Sprunger for Montana House District 7.

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