Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jore watch: Missoulian goes to the source

It has been some time since the last "Jore watch" post, but another was inevitable. It has been the most commented on post in this site's short life of commenting on Montana politics, and probably rightly so.

The most common criticism was that Montana Headlines was implying that the Billings Gazette was choosing to publish anti-Jore letters while ignoring pro-Jore letters. This was not intended. For all Montana Headlines knows, the one pro-Jore letter published was the only one received by the Billings Gazette. Or perhaps the ratio of 5 to 1 anti-Jore to pro-Jore letters represented the mix in their mailbag.

What was being questioned was whether 5 anti-Jore letters in one week represented the mix of all letters received at the Gazette. If so, that would have been truly amazing to have 5 times as many letters written decrying Rick Jore as were received expressing an opinion on any other subject. Such an idea stretched credulity -- thus the post.

Other comments were related to Jore's opposition to federal funding of public schools. This was taken by some to believe that schools should be unfunded, which reflects a common misunderstanding of how schools are funded.

Traditionally, public school funding is a local and state responsibility. There is no delegated authority in the Constitution authorizing the federal government to be involved in public education, which means that according to the 10th Amendment, such authority is "reserved for the States respectively, or to the people."

Of course, the Constitution has been turned on its head to such a degree by the Supreme Court in this century that such views are seen as quaint at best -- radically seditious at worst. Thus the vituperative, sloganeering ("shame on the Republicans!") response to Jore's appointment to the House Education Committee.

The Gazette has furthermore carried two editorials criticizing Jore, one already mentioned, and the other appearing more recently.

Leave it to that Montana hotbed of conservative Republican thought -- Missoula -- to address the issue in a fair and direct way. To quote the editors at the Missoulian:

With so many people offering commentary on Jore's educational philosophy, it dawned on us that it might be helpful if someone actually explained that philosophy in detail - someone who truly knows what Jore thinks about education. You know, like Jore himself.

What an idea. The resulting article is worth reading in its entirety, and has been sorely needed.

While many, especially on the left, would disagree with Jore's views, the clarity of his expression cannot be disputed. He manifestly demonstrates a grasp of the Montana Constitution and of the legislative process as it relates to education that should more than qualify him to head a House committee of this sort. He was not selected to be Superintendent of a public school, but rather to guide a part of the legislative process.