It’s time to apply for the Senate Youth Program

It’s still August, true, but October will be upon us before we know it. If you know a student interested in landing a post in this prestigious program – not to mention the $5,000 scholarship that goes with it – encourage that teen to get an application in pronto!

Walsh, Tester encourage Montana students

to join Senate Youth Program

Applications for Washington leadership program due October 10

(U.S. SENATE) – Senators John Walsh and Jon Tester are encouraging Montana students to apply for the United States Senate Youth Program, a week-long leadership program that introduces students to the inner workings of the government and importance of democracy.

Two Montana students will join 102 of their peers from around the country to take part in the conference that will feature guest lectures and tours of national landmarks. Each participant will receive a $5,000 college scholarship in addition to the all-expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital.

The 53rd annual United States Senate Youth Program will take place March 7-14, 2015, and interested Montana applicants should contact their high school principal or Tobie Liedes at (406) 444-2417 and Applications are due October 10, 2014.

Participants are in the top percentage of their states in academic and extracurricular performance, and they exhibit a strong interest in public affairs.

The Senate Youth Program was established in 1962, and over 50,000 of American youth have participated in the program.


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New school year brings new round of federal grant funding

Three cheers for reading and writing!

Juneau and Tester Announce Extension

of $4.9 Million Striving Readers Grant

Forty-Two Schools and Pre-Kindergarten Centers

Able to Continue Literacy Efforts

Helena, MT – Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and U. S. Senator Jon Tester announced 42 Montana schools and pre-kindergarten centers will continue to receive federal grant funding for the next two school years to advance literacy skills, reading and writing for students from early childhood through grade 12. Montana will receive $4.9 million for the 2014-2015 school year. In 2012, the competitive grant was awarded to only six states. To date, more than 10,000 students and 850 teachers and staff members have benefited from the Striving Readers grant.

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Missoula student scores prestigious Senate page post

Lately U.S. Sen. John Walsh has been much in the news for announcing that he was ending his run for election. He will serve out the rest of his term, which ends in January.

But before that big announcement, his office announced some other big news: Katee Orr, a Hellgate High School student, was chosen to participate in the Senate Page Program.

Only 30 students are chosen each year, which means not every senator gets to make a nomination every year. And senators much make a nomination in order for a page to be accepted into the program.

Orr, a high school junior who is described as an “active member of the Speech and Debate Club, Choir, and the Recycling club,” is also a Missoula Food Bank volunteer. She has also traveled to Arizona and New Mexico to perform mission work.

Now she’ll be traveling to Washington, D.C., for the Fall 2014 session of the Senate Page Program. She will spend about four months learning the lay of the land and “assisting with administrative tasks around the Capitol complex.”

As Senator Walsh said himself in a prepared statement about the announcement:

“Katee is one of Montana’s rising stars, and I am excited to welcome her to the Senate community. Katee will learn a lot during her months in D.C., and I know she will put that knowledge and experience to good use when she returns to Missoula.”

 Congratulations, Katee Orr, and best of luck in D.C.!


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MT senator announces child protection bill while visiting Missoula children’s shelter

U.S. Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., was in town yesterday and stopped by Watson Children’s Shelter.

While there, he learned about the shelter’s operations from Director Fran Albrecht, talked to some of the kids staying there, and announced a new bill – the Protecting Children from Interstate Child Endangerment Act.

The Missoulian article provides a good synopsis. Here’s the full press release from Walsh’s office:

Walsh sponsors legislation

to strengthen federal law to protect children

Senator announces legislation

during tour of Watson Children’s Shelter in Missoula

(US SENATE)—During a tour of the Watson Children’s Shelter in Missoula, Senator John Walsh today announced legislation to protect children by strengthening federal child endangerment laws.

The Protecting Children from Interstate Child Endangerment Act corrects the inconsistencies across state child abuse laws and creates a uniform federal law for prosecutors to federally prosecute child abusers.  Currently, laws vary from state to state making it difficult to prosecute offenders who cross state lines.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

“This bill gives law enforcement the tools they need to keep our children safe from negligence and abuse,” Walsh said.  “Having a uniform child endangerment law across the country will ensure every child will have equal access to justice, and it will make our communities a safer place to raise our families.”

During Walsh’s time as Lieutenant Governor, Governor Steve Bullock signed into law legislation expanding Montana’s child protection laws, creating a new offense of criminal endangerment to prevent child abuse in the state.

Walsh’s bill uses the Montana state law as a model for federal policy and creates offenses for the following forms of child endangerment, which currently do not carry a federal penalty:

  • Placing children up to age 14 in the physical custody of individuals who are known to have purposely or knowingly caused bodily injury to a child.
  • Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance, in violation of the law of the State in which the motor vehicle is being operated, while the child is in the motor vehicle.

The federal law would establish a penalty of $50,000 and/or 10 years in prison.

What Montanans are saying about Walsh’s bill:

“Working with over 1,000 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault ever year, we see very clearly the devastating effects of child abuse on victims and their families,” said Melinda Reed, Executive Director of the Friendship Center in Helena.  “This new law will provide much needed protection to children across the country, and hold abusers accountable with tough new penalties.”

“Thank you Senator Walsh for sponsoring a bill that will create consistency across state child abuse laws,” said Paula Samms,  Director of the Lewis and Clark Child Advocacy Center of AWARE Inc. “Hundreds of children a year tell us the details of the abuse they have suffered at the hands of the adults they have trusted. These adults need to be prosecuted and these children need to be protected.”

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Governor Bullock, Sesame Street and healthy habits

How did I miss this?

A 45-second video of Montana’s own Governor Steve Bullock talking about healthy habits with Sesame Street’s Abby and Rosita?

Yes, please!


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2 Montana youth meet with 2 Montana senators – in the U.S. Senate

Congratulations are in order for Helena’s Rachel Skaar and Polson’s Sharidan Russell, two teens who were chosen – first by their teachers and principals, then by the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction – to act as student-representatives in the U.S. Senate Youth Program.

This week they met with Montana’s two senators, Jon Tester and John Walsh.

More on the meeting and the program here:

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Follow through on that threat to send your teen to military school

Montana’s two senators and congressman may not see eye to eye on a lot of issues, but there’s one thing they can all agree on:

Sending teenagers to military school.

Just kidding! Sort of.

But seriously:

Tester, Walsh, and Daines to host Academy & ROTC Days

in Missoula, Billings and Great Falls

(U.S. CONGRESS) – Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh, along with Representative Steve Daines, are each hosting an informational meeting for Montana high school students interested in applying to military service academies and participating in ROTC programs.


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Tester talks education in Washington with Montana school leaders

Yesterday Montana’s Sen. Jon Tester met with elementary school leaders from Montana in Washington, D.C.

The occasion was the Senate’s consideration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is due for reauthorization. It was last reauthorized in 2002, and allocates federal fund for primary and secondary public education.

At the meeting Tester, himself a former elementary school teacher, laid out his support for the act and his intention to vote for reauthorization.

“Making smart investments in early learning is the best way to prepare our children for future success,” Tester said in a prepared statement. “Giving kids an early boost will pay big dividends down the road.  By focusing on early childhood education and improving school readiness, we are strengthening the future our state and our nation.”

According to Tester’s office:

Tester recently co-sponsored The Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which expands young Montanans’ access to early childhood education.  The bill increases investments in initiatives that provide high-quality pre-school to low- and moderate-income families.

Joining Tester in his Washington, D.C. office were Kirk Miller (Helena), Executive Director of School Administrators of Montana, Matthew Lewis (Lewistown), Principal of Highland Park & Garfield Elementary Schools and President of the Montana Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals (MAEMSP), Dean Jardee (Vaughn), Principal of Vaughn Schools and 1st VP, David Wick (Columbia Falls), Principal of Columbia Falls Junior High, and Carole McKittrick (Great Falls), Principal of Mountain View Elementary School and Federal Relations Coordinator.

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Missoula’s Banna chosen for state Family Support Services Advisory Council

Gov. Steve Bullock’s recent high-profile appointments – of a senator to replace Max Baucus and a lieutenant governor to replace John Walsh – have been grabbing all the headlines lately.

But Bullock makes appointments all the time. Just last week, he released another list of appointments to various state councils and boards.

Missoulians in particular might want to take special note of one appointment in particular: Jennifer Banna, of Missoula, was named to the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council.

According to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services:

The Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council serves as Montana’s interagency coordinating council to advise and assist the Part C Family Education and Support program, part of the Developmental Disabilities Program, to plan, develop, and implement Montana’s comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, coordinated program of early intervention and family support services for children, aged birth to five, with disabilities and their families.  The Council advises appropriate local and State agencies regarding the integration of services and supports for infants and toddlers and their families, regardless of whether the infants and toddlers are eligible for Montana’s Part C services or for other services in the State.

Banna’s qualifications as a parent representative stem from her experience as a Parent Partner with Parents Let’s Unite for Kids (PLUK), which “represents the 30,000 families of children with disabilities and special health care needs in Montana, as well as serves as Montana’s Parent Training and Information Center, the Family to Family Health Information and Education Center, and the Family Voices state affiliate.”

Important stuff. Congratulations, Jennifer Banna!

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7-member MT Board of Regents now has 2 openings

First, Montana Sen. Max Baucus was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China.

Then, Gov. Steve Bullock appointed his lieutenant governor, John Walsh, to complete Baucus’s term in the Senate.

Then, Bullock appointed Angela McLean, chair of the Montana Board of Regents, to become lieutenant governor.

Gov. Steve Bullock with Lt. Gov. Angela McLean

Gov. Steve Bullock with Lt. Gov. Angela McLean

Now, he needs to appoint someone to fill McLean’s seat on the Board of Regents. Actually, he needs to appoint two someones because there are two open seats now that Regent Todd Buchanan’s term has expired.

That’s a whole lot of appointing going on.

McLean’s name is a familiar one in education circles. Here’s more on her background, from the announcement just out of the Governor’s Office today:

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