Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Q&A: Sharyl Allen, Republican Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Sharyl Allen
Sharyl Allen
Candidate Q&A
Q&A: Bowen Greenwood, Republican Candidate for Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court
We are gathering information from all statewide candidates as a resource for the 2024 Primary Elections. Responses were limited to 200 words per question. Political attacks may have been removed, but otherwise, the responses are published unedited.
Q&A: Roger Roots, Libertarian Candidate for Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court
We are gathering information from all statewide candidates as a resource for the 2024 Primary Elections. Responses were limited to 200 words per question. Political attacks may have been removed, but otherwise, the responses are published unedited.
Q&A: Erin Farris-Olsen, Democratic Candidate for Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court
We are gathering information from all statewide candidates as a resource for the 2024 Primary Elections. Responses were limited to 200 words per question. Political attacks may have been removed, but otherwise, the responses are published unedited.

We are gathering information from all statewide candidates as a resource for the 2024 Primary Elections. Responses were limited to 200 words per question. Political attacks may have been removed, but otherwise, the responses are published unedited.


What is your full name as it will appear on ballots? 

Sharyl Allen

What is your age? 

64

Where do you live?

Helena, MT

What is your education background?

  • Bachelor of Science in education from the University of MT Western
  • MBA from Northern AZ University, followed by 60+ hours in Educational Leadership
  • Urban Superintendent Certificate from Georgetown University

I have over 40 years of experience in public education, serving as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, curriculum director, CTE director, assistant superintendent, and superintendent from small Class C schools to Double-A sizes in Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada, and Montana. These diverse experiences have given me a depth of understanding of how state agencies and school funding work, bringing unique and strong skills back home to Montana.
Please list your current and previous occupations.

Current

Small school superintendent

Prior

  • 3.5 years as the State Deputy Superintendent under Elsie Arntzen,
  • Project manager for the initial implementation of Transformational Learning and Advanced Opportunity State Grants.
  • Independent Educational Consultant related to student innovations and wellbeing in U.S., Canada, and New Zealand
  • Superintendent
  • Assistant Superintendent
  • Principal
  • Assistant Principal
  • CTE Director
  • Curriculum Director
  • Special Education Director
  • Chief Negotiator Union Agreements
  • Human Resources

My lifetime occupation is being a teacher. No matter the role, I teach.

What motivated you to seek the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction?

We are in a battle, like at no other time in the history of education, for the hearts and minds of our kids. I have spent a lifetime fighting for the future of opportunities for each child. I have seen the potential and worth of every child. Yet, today, we have kids that are questioning even their identity, hatred of America, lack of an American dream for them, and much more. Because I have fought the status quo, I have battled to fulfill the mandate in our Montana State Constitution. With key faculty, I led the design and implementation of a modern education system that fulfilled our state constitution’s promise. I am the only candidate in this race who has designed and implemented the foundation of a school that keeps our promise to the kids. [EDITOR'S NOTE: MTPR cannot verify this subjective claim against other candidates and no supporting evidence is provided. Because Allen is referencing her opponents' record, MTPR is adding this editors note.]

I am running to ensure parental rights and responsibilities are intact. I am running to led the change in getting federal government out of state rights education and abolish the Federal Department of Education. I am running because each child deserves to have an adult who will fight for the.

2024 Election Breakdowns
2024 Election breakdown: Montana governor's race
The presumed frontrunners in the race are Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Gianforte, a former tech entrepreneur from Bozeman, and Democrat Ryan Busse, a political newcomer and former firearms industry executive from Kalispell.We’ve also got Libertarian Kaiser Lieb, who runs a comedy production company, Republican Rep. Tanner Smith, a legislator and construction business owner from Lakeside, and Democrat Jim Hunt, an attorney in Helena.
2024 Election breakdown: Western U.S. House race
Five names will appear on primary ballots - two Republicans, one Democrat and two Libertarians. Although one of the Libertarians has unofficially dropped out and is not campaigning.
2024 Election breakdown: Attorney General race
There are three candidates in all, two Republicans, Austin Knudsen and Logan Olsen, and one Democrat, Ben Alke. That’s setting up a Republican primary.

What policies, if any, should the state use to improve teacher pay and recruit and retain educators?

A. Working with our legislators and the executive branch, we should implement a statewide salary schedule to get minimum teacher salaries at $36,000 and a maximum of $65,000.00.

B. Teacher Residency—As deputy superintendent, I developed the think tanks on teacher recruitment and retention. It was a collaborative effort to address needs. From this, I initiated the MT Teacher Residency program, recruiting partners from MT universities, nationwide experts in Residency, Montana Superintendents, and other representatives. This effort to better prepare beginning teachers must be kept and expanded.

This program develops a systemic way of preparing teacher pre-service candidates to hit

C. Another priority from our statewide think-tank is that we must Value the Teaching Profession.

Reasons for flight from teaching: there are three key reasons: (1) lack of support within the system. (2) Society seems to think raising the kids is a teacher’s job. (3) Post-pandemic, the issues are compounded.

D. Role Clarity: Parents are responsible for raising their children. It is not the job of the government or government schools to raise the kids. Teachers are responsible for teaching in a rigorous, relevant, modernized system.

How will you ensure the constitutional requirement for students to learn about Native American history and culture is implemented in Montana schools?

This is a compliance question and a local control responsibility. However, under my leadership, we will hold the first statewide student IEFA Olympics competition with knowledge bowls, games competitions, storytelling, impromptu speeches, elder circles, student native dancing and singing, original film festivals, and more. This will be the place to see, hear, and act on student demonstrations of learning, far more powerful and lasting about our fellow Montanans and their culture.

As deputy superintendent, I began the foundational work of a new federal assessment system in Montana and demanded that Montana native culture be imbedded in this work, which continues to progress today. Integration of IEFA in all that we undertake is vital.

Finally, at every gathering, every event, it would be opened by a tribal elder blessing to event. Imagine state basketball with tribal elders on the court before teams play… imagine state music festival with a blessing and music from tibal elders… just imagine what is possible beyond compliance – that’s how I’ll ensure learning occurs.

What changes, if any, should be made to the state public school’s funding formula?

The changes needed to be made are simplicity, transparency, and better differentiation between school profiles. This means that while all districts have the same reporting requirments – they do not have the same manpower. I have a team already working on a potential new funding formula. It needs to eliminate things like the quality educator payment – a holdover from No Child Left Behind, data payments, and at-risk payments.

We need to update transportation payments to better reflect today's costs and revisit the inflation amounts to reflect the real inflation rates faced.

We need to simplify the system and ensure our rural schools have the resources to operate efficiently and effectively.

What role do you see charter schools playing in Montana’s education system?

The charter school movement is about an inditement of mediocrity of our public schools today. It is a statement by Montanan’s that we are not providing an excellent education. This problem will be fixed by providing an education system that fulfills each person's full educational potential. Hence, the role of charters may be to catapult Montana into the top five states that provide exceptional education through a modernized education system that meets our Constitutional mandate and offers the skills students need for their unknown future. Charters may be able to trailblaze paths that public schools have missed over time. Charters may be a source oto demand the education promised our kids.

What measures, if any, should lawmakers or school officials take to protect students from gun violence?

Lawmakers and school districts in Montana have already taken measures: Regular Alice training for staff, evaluation of facilities for maximum safety, camera systems, one entrance into schools through camera identification systems, lockdown practices, notifications of strangers on campus, SROs in larger districts, and visits by law enforcement in more rural districts.

What should the state Land Board prioritize as it manages state trust lands?

The effective use of all our natural resources operating at total capacity: coal, gas, oil, and timber. The Land Board should be vocal, along with other state officials, on any federal efforts to negatively impact our use of Montana’s treasures to help pay for the education of our children, our most precious gift from God.

Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information