Linda McCulloch

Linda McCulloch

Secretary of State, Montana


We must teach our kids to read. It is the basis for everything that follows.

Literacy is a basic human right. It gives us the means to communicate, learn and be successful in life. Early intervention is key to improving the reading standard in this country. When a young student fails to master basic literacy skills early in their education, they increasingly fall further behind their peers and struggle to meet future educational goals.

Our schools must ensure that every student, at every school, knows how to read, comprehend and use the written word at the appropriate level. Progress must be maintained and considered.


Every school must have an engaged and vibrant Library Media Center. It should be in the center of the school, and classroom activities should revolve around it.

It is important to maintain a school environment where libraries are valued and promoted. Every Library Media Center should have the budget to maintain a qualified librarian, diverse collection and modern technology.

By instilling a love of reading and learning in schools, librarians enhance student achievement at every grade level. Both educators and students benefit from classroom trips to the library, or by involving the librarian in their lesson plan.


Civics must be an integral part of every student’s education, from kindergarten through college.

A child’s development occurs both inside and outside of the classroom, and learned behaviors are often carried into adulthood. Civics education equips students with the knowledge and leadership skills they need to become engaged and active citizens now and in the future. It is an essential component of citizenship.

Incorporating civics into classroom activities ensures every young citizen has the opportunity to learn about democracy and government. Crafting donations and organizing fundraisers; providing a needed community service; participating in student mock elections or government speech contests; and writing letters to state and local leaders are all effective civic engagement projects.


You are what you eat. Nutrition should be taught and practiced at every school.

Every teacher knows that a hungry child does not perform as well in the classroom. In order to be fully poised to learn, a student must eat a healthy breakfast and lunch.

Local and inexpensive food choices should be central to a student’s learning about nutrition. Educators should also consider the benefits of growing a garden for kids to cultivate, grow and enjoy. For sustainability, parents and the community should be involved in planning a school’s wellness program.


Do not underestimate the value of recess and physical education.

In addition to nutrition education, recess and P.E. play an important role in ensuring the health and wellbeing of our nation’s youth. With an increasing number of youth spending their free time in sedentary activities, recess and P.E. are often a student’s only opportunity for exercise during the day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. At the same time, budget cuts are removing from schools the very classes that can fight obesity. It is important to work around budget cuts and keep kids moving in recess and P.E. A healthy body sustains a healthy mind.

The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.


Linda McCulloch was elected Montana’s first woman Secretary of State in November 2008. Throughout her career, she has been an energetic and determined advocate for education, literacy, and civic engagement—having also served as a teacher, school librarian, state legislator, and state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch’s professional career has been devoted to public service, having previously served as a teacher, school librarian, legislator, and statewide elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.

A senior member of the Montana State Board of Land Commissioners, Linda has helped create rural jobs and generate approximately $800 million in revenue for Montana schools by overseeing the management of 5.2 million acres of school trust land. Her position on the five-member Board continues to secure sustainable natural resource conservation, responsible timber-harvesting and affordable use of state lands.

During her two terms, or eight years, as State Superintendent, Linda helped boost funding for Montana schools, implement Indian Education for All, start Full-Time Kindergarten across the state, award honorary high school diplomas for war-veterans, launch the READ Montana! program, and help advance rural education advocacy regarding the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Linda served three terms in the Montana House of Representatives, from 1995 to 2001. In 1999, she served as the Minority Caucus Leader and Vice-Chair of the House Education Committee.

As an active civic leader, Linda has been a faculty affiliate and served on numerous boards including the Board of Public Education, Board of Regents, Montana Library Commission, and the Advisory Council to the Montana Meth Project.

Linda holds M.A. and B.A. degrees in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Supervision of Library Media Programs from the University of Montana. She started her educational career in 1978 as a paraprofessional in Eastern Montana before teaching in schools in Western Montana.