Education

WPM is committed to covering education issues in Wyoming in a thoughtful and thorough way. We dedicated a page to capture news and information that educates us about education! This main page captures all education-related stories we've aired, and updates you on broad issues.

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Wyoming Education Forum

Sep 8, 2014
Diana Denison

Listen Online! AIRS ON WPR: September 12 at 3:00pm, Repeats September 14 at 12pm. Listen online at wyomingpublicmedia.org.

AIRS ON Wyoming PBS: September 29 at 8:00pm, Repeats Tuesday 30 at 1:00pm and October 5 at 11:00am. wyomingpbs.org

Getting to the Core of the Common Core:

The Wyoming Board of Education supports making the state’s schools chief an appointed position instead of an elected one, as the Wyoming Constitution currently requires.

After hours of deliberation Thursday, all but one Board member voiced support for making such changes to the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Board was split on whether the Governor or the Board itself should be responsible for appointing a state Superintendent.

Via Tsuji via Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday was the first day of school for students in Wyoming’s largest school district—Laramie County School District One. But rapid population growth in parts of Cheyenne means some students can’t attend the schools in their neighborhoods. 

Wyoming high school students who graduated in 2014 did slightly better on the ACT, on average, than those who graduated last year. Performance results released Wednesday by the Wyoming Department of Education show an average ACT score of 20.1 for this year’s test-takers, compared to 19.8 in 2013.

The Legislature’s Joint Education Committee has extended the deadline for public input in its study of education governance in Wyoming after receiving almost 1,300 responses.

Under direction from the Legislature’s Management Council, the Committee hired a consulting group in June to survey Wyomingites on what changes should be made to how the state runs its public schools. The firm has interviewed stakeholders and solicited input from the public with an online survey.

Jimmy Emerson via Flickr Creative Commons

The Wyoming Department of Education will hold its fifth annual Native American Education Conference this week in Riverton. The goals of the conference including boosting communication between schools and the Native American families they serve—and integrating tribal culture into curriculum.

Last year, the high school graduation rate for Native American students in Wyoming was 42 percent, compared to 78 percent for all students. Conference coordinator Keja Whiteman says that gap signals the need for this event.

There was disagreement during a Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction debate concerning the administration of Cindy Hill. 

Sheryl Lain, who currently works for Hill, defended the Superintendent and says education has improved and test scores have gone up. But Jillian Balow says the state can’t have four more years of a Hill/Lain administration. 

Two of the three Republican candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction say it should be left up to local school boards to determine if teachers or others can have guns in schools. Bill Winney was adamant that the issue should be decided locally.

“There’s something in me that says a teacher shouldn’t be standing in front of a classroom with a pistol on their hip…I got that. But that’s not the real point…the real point is the authority and local control of our school boards.” 

wypols.com

This summer there's been a big push by the nation's powerful teacher unions to completely revamp the nation's standardized tests mandated under No Child Left Behind and then revamped with the new Common Core standards. Wyoming Public Radio’s congressional reporter, Matt Laslo, has the story on how the state’s congressional delegation is fighting for the state’s interests on the issue.

Wyoming_Jackrabbit via Flickr Creative Commons

The University of Wyoming is working to update its preservation plan for historic buildings on campus. The current preservation plan was written in 1999 and is now out of date since many buildings now qualify as historic that once did not.

With lots of construction and renovation taking place on campus, UW's Interim Director of Facilities Planning Larry Blake says new guidelines are necessary.

Sheryl Lain has been a classroom teacher and has spent the last several years training teachers as an instructional leader. Lain is one of three Republicans seeking the party nomination for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Lain has spent the last three years working side by side with current Superintendent Cindy Hill. 

Simon Gibson via Flickr Creative Commons

A Laramie-based education foundation that focuses on professional development for teachers has recognized Johnson County School District #1 for the number of teaching staff there who have earned National Board Certification.

National Board Certification is a voluntary and rigorous assessment program to develop and recognize accomplished teachers. The John P. Ellbogen Foundation awards Wyoming schools where at least 20 percent of staff earn the certifications. Johnson County One is the first district in Wyoming to achieve that in each one of its five schools.

Audio Luci Store via Flickr Creative Commons

Seven school districts in Wyoming are arguing that the state has underfunded K-12 schools in the past several years by failing to adjust for inflation.

The coalition says the state owes Wyoming’s school districts $151 million dollars for the last three years.

State Representative Tim Stubson of Casper is on the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee. He says the Legislature does account for inflation in school funding—and granted an external cost adjustment—or ECA—this year.

The special legislative committee investigating Wyoming schools Superintendent Cindy Hill has released a final report sharply criticizing her performance. 

The report released Wednesday concludes Hill failed to follow legislative budget directives and intentionally violated the law by requiring permanent Education Department employees to certify she could fire them at any time.

Elizabeth Albert via Flickr Creative Commons

Wyoming has dropped several spots in its ranking in a national report on children’s well-being.

The 2014 Kids Count Index ranked Wyoming 19th in the country, down from 15th last year. The report weighs several factors. Wyoming earned a sixth place ranking for children’s economic well-being, but ranked 45th in health.

Some of the factors contributing to that low ranking include rates of teen alcohol abuse, the number of children without health insurance, and the number of babies born underweight.

Bill Winney

Three Republicans are seeking the nomination for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. One of them is Bill Winney. He is a retired Naval Officer who wants to bring that leadership experience to help run the state department of education. In the Navy he trained a number of people and says training and education were a key part of his career.

Emory Maiden via Flickr Creative Commons

Students who identified as racial minorities received a greater number of the state’s out-of-school suspensions in the last school year, according to Wyoming Department of Education data.

A coalition of science advocacy groups have launched what they’re calling a Climate Science Bill of Rights to push for climate change to be taught in schools around the country. The campaign says all students deserve to explore the causes and consequences of climate change, free from political interference.

The groups behind the bill include Climate Parents, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Center for Science Education and the Alliance for Climate Education. 

Aaron Schrank/WPR

The construction of a new Rawlins High School is delayed—and some in the community are angry—after recent bids by subcontractors put the project $7 million dollars over budget.

The State’s School Facilities Department oversees school construction projects in the state. The Department says the high bid is the result of construction labor shortages and adds that it will work with Rawlins to cut costs.

A member of State Superintendent Cindy Hill’s staff is hoping to replace her.  Sheryl Lane is one of three Republican’s running for the right to face Democrat Mike Ceballos in the November general election.  

Lane is a former classroom teacher and while she likes the fact that legislators are looking at improving school and teacher accountability, she does not like the way they are going about it.  She says they have developed state accountability measures, something she opposes.

Alan English CPA via Flickr Creative Commons

Teton County is planning to build affordable housing for local teachers.

The development in Wilson will include 11 homes. Each will have 3 bedrooms and cost no more than $422,500. The median sales price for residential properties in Jackson Hole last year was more than $550,000.

Commissioner Ben Ellis says he hopes the development will keep top teaching talent in Teton County.

Wyoming ranks among the best states for recent college graduates to live and work. That’s according to a recent analysis of changes in four-year college tuition rates, median household income and unemployment rates since the start of the financial crisis.

Yellowstone Gate via Flickr Creative Commons

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill is firing back at a legislative report released yesterday alleging she misused public funds and established a culture of fear and intimidation at Wyoming Department of Education.

Hill says the allegations in the report are untrue—and describes the report as a political attack.

"There’s no foundation," said Hill. "There are no facts. This is all hearsay—rewound, republished—for political end. The Governor is hoping to win an election. He’s desperate. And I just smile and say, ‘Really?’"

Associated Press

A special legislative committee investigating Wyoming schools Superintendent Cindy Hill released a scathing report Tuesday concluding she failed to follow legislative funding directives and demanded rank-and-file education department staff to demonstrate personal loyalty to her.

Hill has 15 days to respond before the committee will issue its final report, probably before the end of the month.

Dennis Wilkinson via Flickr Creative Commons

The State Board of Education is asking the Wyoming Department of Education to stop work on development of a new set of science standards.

The Department recently formed a science standards review committee of about 50 teachers, administrators, higher education representatives and businesspeople to develop new science standards. That group was supposed to meet several times this summer before presenting suggestions to the Board and public in the fall.

What do you want from the next State Superintendent of Public Instruction?

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The Legislature's Joint Education Committee is moving forward with an effort to study alternative ways to manage the Wyoming Department of Education and will seek input from education stakeholders and the public in that process.

A group of 8th graders from Wheatland Middle School who built a tornado shelter for a school competition won the top national prize for their efforts last week.

Haiden Moody, Christian Moody, Joey Madsen and Jacob Stafford spent the past few months engineering a tornado safety shelter converted from an old set of school lockers. It was part of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math competition put on by the U.S. Army called eCYBERMISSION.

JohnAndAlynda via Flickr Creative Commons

Laramie’s WyoTech automotive trade school will remain operational, but faces an uncertain future.

WyoTech’s parent company—Corinthian Colleges—is clashing with regulators, who accuse the for-profit company of falsifying job placement rates and misleading students about financial aid.

Monday, Corinthian reached an agreement with the Department of Education which will keep federal aid flowing—and the doors on its 90 campuses nationwide open—while a long-term operational plan is developed.

Jacdupree via Flickr Creative Commons

Sheridan College has received a $4 million dollar donation to help build a new agriculture center on campus.

The donation, announced Friday, is from longtime benefactor Forrest Mars, Jr. of Big Horn. The new center will cost $8 million, and $2.7 million has already been allocated by the state.

College President Paul Young says the 15,000-sqaure foot building will bring a much-needed impact to the school’s agriculture programs.

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