Education

WPM is committed to covering education issues in Wyoming in a thoughtful and thorough way. This main page captures all education-related stories we've aired, and updates you on broad issues.

Check out our Strengthening Education Reporting page for stories focused primarily on graduation rates and how to encourage an upward trend in education.

Wyoming lawmakers met in Cody this week to continue their work updating the state’s school funding model. School funding is updated every five years in a process called recalibration. 

Members of the legislature’s Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration spent much of this week’s meeting discussing teacher salaries.

Senator Chris Rothfuss of Laramie says lawmakers were presented data showing that Wyoming teacher pay remains above average.

University of Wyoming

Incoming freshman students at the University of Wyoming will soon have more access to top professors in their first semester. It’s part of the revamped University Studies Program, a core curriculum for all UW undergraduates.

Program coordinator Meg Flanigan Skinner says it aims to go beyond basic coursework.

Wyoming Education Association

The Wyoming Education Association says fixing the federal education law No Child Left Behind is a top priority as the group heads to the National Education Association’s annual meeting this weekend.

There’s a bipartisan bill in Congress to revise No Child Left Behind—dubbed the Every Child Achieves Act. It would provide states more freedom and flexibility when it comes to accountability and testing than the existing law.

Teton County School District Superintendent Pam Shea will retire at the end of this month, after working in the district for more than 30 years.

Under her 9-year tenure as the district’s top administrator, student test scores and teacher salaries rose, and the district launched successful efforts like its dual immersion Spanish program.  

Aaron Schrank

Fort Washakie senior Keenen Large watches from the bleachers as his grade school counterparts parade through the school gym in traditional dress. This is what the school calls ‘Indian Days.’ Keenen remembers what it used to be.

“When I was a kid it was like five days,” says Large. “Man, every day was fun. They actually brought a buffalo here and they really performed a gutting ceremony—and then we ate it afterwards. It’s good.”

University of Wyoming

A University of Wyoming Board of Trustees initiative to boost the College of Education into national prominence in teacher preparation took a step forward Monday.

Trustees accepted a $500,000 dollar grant from The Daniels Fund, a Denver-based private foundation, which will be used to plan the first phase of the effort.

Angus Thuermer / WyoFile

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees approved a process and timeline Monday for recruiting and hiring UW’s next president.

That process will include hiring a search firm, forming two 14-member committees to select candidates and appointing a recruiter to oversee the entire process.

Wyoming’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction says the state needs to be doing a better job educating students to meet industry’s needs.

“You will hear me talk a lot about phasing out courses that are not of value to industry, and really scaling up those courses that are of value,” Jillian Balow told the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority at its summer meeting. She said the state’s infrastructure includes its students and that Wyoming needs to keep them in state with better science, technology, engineering and math education. 

Wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers are taking a look at whether recreation mill levies create inequity for Wyoming students.

Under state law, communities can collect one mill from taxpayers—or one one-thousandth of the assessed property value of a school district—to pay for recreational facilities. Frequently districts use the mill levy to pay for such things as swimming pools and enhanced auditoriums. 

Wyoming lawmakers want more flexibility in how schools are assessed under the federal education law, No Child Left Behind.

Members of the Legislature’s Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability met in Saratoga Wednesday to discuss how to reform Wyoming’s system for evaluating schools. A rework of the state’s accountability system is required by legislation passed this year.

The task force responsible for weighing in on the future of student testing in Wyoming held its kickoff meeting in Casper on Monday.

The assessment task force is made up of 26 teachers, administrators, school board members, parents and businesspeople from around the state.

Under state law, the group is charged with recommending an approach to assessment that fulfills accountability requirements –and furthers learning and achievement for Wyoming students.

Over the past few months, a set of proposed reading materials for students in Cody has led to more than 40 complaints from parents, the resignation of a school board trustee—and that board’s decision to form a group to address all the complaints before any resources are adopted.

But, on Monday, the group of teachers that recommended the contentious reading materials decided to pull back their recommendation until policies change.

Cody High School teacher Rick Stonehouse chairs the group—and says the process hasn’t been working well so far.

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow was part of a delegation of U.S. state schools chiefs who visited China this month to discuss education issues.

The trip was paid for by the Council of State School Officers and was the third dialogue of its kind.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming school year recently came to a close and we asked UW President Dick McGinity to stop by and tell us about the state of the University. McGinity discusses stability, hiring, tuition, and enrollment in a wide-ranging interview with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck.  

Aaron Schrank

Fort Washakie High School is a small, struggling school on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The students there have been pushing towards one major goal: graduation. And, today, as part of our series on the school, we’ll hear some of those students cross the finish line. 

As family and friends file into the Fort Washakie gymnasium, the class of 2015 is outside posing for a final group photo. English teacher Mike Read offers a quick pep talk as he snaps his camera shutter.

Antoine Cully/UPMC.

 A University of Wyoming professor is part of a research team that has come with a groundbreaking way for damaged robots to adapt and continue to function.

The study was published Thursday in the science journal Nature—and is titled ‘Robots That Can Adapt Like Animals.’

What is the impact of removing controversial subjects from the K through 12 curriculum? 

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

By contributing your comment, you consent to the possibility of having it read on the air.

Abhi Sharma, Flickr Creative Commons

Hundreds of parents, students, and teachers showed up for a contentious school board meeting about reading curriculum in Cody Tuesday night. 

Cody teachers, administrators, and parents spent nearly three years selecting reading and language materials for the school district. They chose Houghton and Mifflin’s Journey curriculum books.

School Superintendent Ray Schulte says 8 or 9 people filed 40 complaints against the selection. Newly elected school board member Scott Weber had problems with some of the content.

“There’s junk science in there.”

This week a group of legislators will be deciding how much money Wyoming schools will receive over the next five years. The process is called re-calibration and it looks at all the elements of the school funding model. 

The review comes at a time when the state is looking at a possible financial downturn and Senate Education Chairman Hank Coe says that will enter into their discussions. He says they may need to be more frugal than in the past.

Some parents in Cody are raising concerns about a reading curriculum that the local school board will vote to approve or deny next week.

The proposed resources are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and were suggested by a committee of educators in Park County School District 6 after years of discussion.

But critics don’t like the way some the reading materials address topics like war, slavery, global climate change and the treatment of indigenous people.

The state of Wyoming paid a school district in Montana $438,000 this year to educate 35 children who live on the Wyoming side of the border in Yellowstone National Park.

Administrators in both states say the arrangement has worked well.

The federal government had paid for these students for decades—but it stopped last year due to budget cuts.

Students in the Mammoth Hot Springs area previously did not belong to any school district. Now, they attend school in Gardiner, Montana, but live within the expanded boundary of Wyoming’s Park County School District One.

University of Wyoming

What qualities would you like to see in the next University of Wyoming President?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

By contributing your comment, you consent to the possibility of having it read on the air.

Aaron Schrank

Life after high school looks a bit different for every Wyoming graduate. Some are set on college or a career. Others are more worried about making money this summer. In an effort to prepare students who are less interested in academic options, one high school started a program that trains some seniors to be commercial truckers.

For the final two weeks of his Douglas High School career, Garret Blackburn has been spending most of his time hanging out in the parking lot.  

“This is definitely a lot more interesting than sitting around the classroom,” Blackburn says.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees is gathering public input this week into its process to find a successor to President Dick McGinity.

McGinity announced he’ll step down when his contract expires next year—but only if the presidential search is successful.

The search is to be an open process—unlike the controversial closed search that produced President Robert Sternberg in a few years ago. Trustee Mel Baldwin of Afton is optimistic that this approach will be more successful.   

USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given the Wyoming Department of Education a $65,000 grant to boost local food programs at schools across the state.

So-called ‘farm to school’ programs have been on the uptick in Wyoming in the past few years. The Wyoming Department of Education says the grant money will be used to put on 5 regional conferences to get school districts and local producers into productive partnerships.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow says these partnerships benefit Wyoming students nutritionally—and educationally.

University of Wyoming

  

The University Of Wyoming Board Of Trustees has formed a committee that will figure out how to conduct the search for the next UW president.  

The decision comes less than two weeks after current President Dick McGinity announced he will be resigning in June of 2016. The board was criticized for holding a closed search when it hired Bob Sternberg who resigned after just a few months on the job.  Laramie Trustee Mike Massie will serve on the committee. He says they want input on how a search should be conducted, and what kind of candidates the board should target.

Courtesy University of Wyoming Institutional Communications

Dr. Ray Reutzel has been named dean of the College of Education at the University of Wyoming.

Reutzel is a professor of elementary and early childhood education at Utah State University. He will begin leading UW’s College of Education in July.

Reutzel takes the reigns amid increased attention on the College of Education. Last year, the University Board of Trustees launched an initiative to elevate the school to national prominence. Lawmakers on the education committee have made that their top interim priority.

Wyoming Department of Education

 A task force charged with improving distance education in Wyoming held its first of six meetings in Casper last week. The 14-member group will present findings to lawmakers in October.

“It went exceptionally well,” says Brent Bacon, chief academic officer at the Wyoming Department of Education. “We all worked together, did a lot of brainstorming, and came up with some great next steps.”

Casper College

Casper College has selected Dr. Darren Divine as its new president. The College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously for Divine out of four finalists.

The school’s current president Walter Nolte will be retiring at the end of June after eleven years in the job. Devine is currently is Vice President for academic affairs at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.

He says he has a background in agriculture, and that should be a good fit for the college.

The Wyoming Department of Education is asking Wyoming teachers, parents and science professionals to serve on a Science Standards Review Committee. A survey will be open until April 22 for citizens to express interest.

The committee will form science standards for Wyoming students, a process that was restarted by the State Board of Education after lawmakers voted this session to allow the Next Generation Science Standards to be considered.

Pages