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.

University of Wyoming

After years of going without one, the University of Wyoming has hired a new Native American Program Advisor. President Laurie Nichols has said the goal is to try to increase the Native student enrollment so that it better reflects the Native population in the state.

Tennessee Watson

As Wyoming policymakers prepare for the 2018 Budget Session, in which education will be a big topic, teachers are stepping up efforts to make their voices heard.

On Thursday evening, teachers and community members gathered in the backroom of a Laramie restaurant for a postcard writing party.

 

Graphics from SANS. Altered by Tennessee Watson

Jobs in cybersecurity are in high demand, and Governor Matt Mead is encouraging young people in Wyoming to explore the field, especially young women.

 

The governor has announced Wyoming will now participate in the “High School Girls CyberStart Challenge” — a cybersecurity competition for junior and seniors in the form of an online game. In the simulation, players are cyber agents responsible for protecting a base. The idea is to get girls interested in the cybersecurity field, where women are generally underrepresented.

 

Kamila Kudelska

Most of those who spoke at a public hearing Monday night in Cody told the Park County District #6 school board that they did not support a proposal to allow armed personnel in public schools.

Two-thirds of those testifying said that guns should be the last, not first security measure. Instead, money should go into introducing smarter security technologies in school buildings. Yetzi Daren Jobaner said even in Wyoming there are places guns don't belong.

Graphic by Tennessee Watson

Students are required to do fire drills and tornado drills, yet Wyoming does not require public schools to do sexual assault prevention. Young people are more likely to be impacted by sexual violence than they are by any of those dangers. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.

 

University of Wyoming

At the end of last semester, the University of Wyoming hired Wind River tribal member Reinette Tendore to recruit Native American students and help them feel more welcome on campus.

Kamila Kudelska

Shannon Hill shuffled into the gymnasium of her middle school, thinking it was just another school assembly. But instead, the teacher got the surprise of her lifetime.

Hill, a middle school physical education and health teacher in Thermopolis, was presented with what has been dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” award, which comes with an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000. Hill is the only winner of the Milken Educator Award for 2017-2018 from Wyoming out of 44 honorees throughout the nation.

 

Wyoming Sexual Violence Prevention Council

Most states have existing laws or pending legislation requiring public schools to teach sexual violence prevention. That leaves Wyoming as one of the few states with absolutely nothing on the books. The Wyoming Sexual Violence Prevention Council is working to fill that gap by supporting a growing network of local projects; among them is a program that works with K-12 student athletes.

Tennessee Watson

Small schools offer an educational experience that many students appreciate for the close-knit community. But those students can also miss out on the diversity of academic offerings available in larger schools.

NASA

The University of Wyoming’s Physics and Astronomy Department has received two grants for research related to finding exoplanets, or planets orbiting other stars. Dr. Michael Pierce and Dr. Hannah Jang-Condell received grants from Indiana University and NASA worth almost $1 million. The funds will primarily be used to build a spectrograph, an instrument that can gather detailed information about star movement near planets.

Wyoming Department of Education

The Every Student Succeeds Act -- or ESSA -- shifted education authority from the federal government to states and local districts, leaving behind the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. But under ESSA, states are still required to demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Education all students have access to an adequate education.

 

The Wyoming Department of Education submitted its ESSA plan in September. Last week, it received a letter from the federal government asking for more information on several points before approval can be given.

Screenshot from the APA Consulting survey

Leading up to the 2018 budget session, Wyoming lawmakers hired education consultants to study the school funding model.

 

The idea was to find ways the state can save money while still meeting its constitutional obligation to provide all students with a proper education. The consultants have released a 552-page draft of their recommendations and they’re taking public feedback through an online survey.

 

Associated Students University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming’s student government is ramping up accountability for groups on campus. A new policy implemented this fall suspends registered student organizations from ASUW funding if found in violation of financial policies.

 

The first group to be suspended under the new policy was the UW chapter of Turning Point USA. The group brought Dennis Prager, conservative radio personality, to speak on campus this fall.

 

Map from pixabay.com Image by Tennessee Watson

Consultants hired by the state legislature to help Wyoming bring efficiencies to the school funding model are asking lawmakers to consider adding a voluntary pre-K program for 4-year-olds.

The consultants found that investing in early childhood education could reduce K-12 resource needs in the long run, like more expensive interventions required for closing achievement gaps with older students. Wyoming is one of seven states without a statewide preschool program.

www.flickr.com/photos/mujitra/5232270530

Parents are only slightly more comfortable talking with their kids about money than about the birds and the bees. That’s according to John Pelletier, who directs Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy.

He said kids need to learn financial skills somewhere, but “the reality is for 80 percent of adults and 80 percent of students who are in high school, they are going to learn through the school of hard knocks.”

wikipedia.org

Five classrooms in Wyoming are being recognized nationally for inspiring change in their local communities through the creative use of STEAM education, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

 

Associated Press

Only about 50 percent of Native American students graduate high school, compared to 80 percent of white students. That’s one reason why the Wyoming Department of Education teamed up with the North Central Comprehensive Center, a national education contractor, to conduct listening sessions in each of the three school districts on the Wind River Reservation.

Bob Beck

This week the legislature’s Revenue Committee pushed off a number of tax measures until the end of January.

The committee has been trying to find revenue to offset losses in revenue that led to massive budget cuts, including a renewed effort to reduce education funding. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard speaks with News Director Bob Beck about this. 

Tennessee Watson

Nicole Rapp is the principal at Crest Hill Elementary School in Casper. Last February, she took a road trip with some of her staff to Sheridan to see one of the state’s highest-performing districts in action.

“Our excitement when we got back in that car that day to drive back to Casper was just wow. It is different," Rapp said.   

She said that’s because Sheridan School District #2 uses the Professional Learning Community model—or PLC—where teachers and administrators work in collaborative teams to support student learning.

cityofcody-wy.gov

The Wyoming state legislature passed a law in March allowing school districts to choose whether their employees can carry firearms. Legislatures said the law would help many rural schools in Wyoming that are far away from law enforcement to react to an armed intruder. So far, a couple of school districts have begun to debate the possibility of introducing such a policy.

Park County School District #6 in Cody is the first school board actually working on drafting a policy that will be introduced to the public on January 8.

Content from the Branding Iron. Layout by Tennessee Watson

An interaction between the UW Police Department and the UW student newspaper has prompted the university to clarify its policy regarding the rights and obligations of student journalists.

 

In a November 3 article, Branding Iron reporter Destiny Irwin reported on allegations that an unnamed resident assistant sexually assaulted women in a dorm. Irwin quoted Resident Assistant Rachel MacDonald, who said the incidents caused Residence Life to change its hiring practices.

 

Wyoming Department of Education

Governor Matt Mead signed an official proclamation Tuesday recognizing December 4 through 11 as Computer Science Education Week in Wyoming, as a part of his effort to make computer science a K-12 academic requirement.

 

“I would like to see coding at every grade level,” Governor Mead said at the proclamation.

 

He also acknowledged that the idea might be met with hesitation given the financial challenges public education is facing.  

 

APA Consulting

Wyoming is proud of its small schools that serve kids across rugged and remote terrain. But lawmakers and educators are weighing whether small schools and small districts are financially sustainable.

 

At a meeting of the Select Committee for School Finance Recalibration last week, education consultants hired by the state legislature presented consolidation as a way to increase course offerings and extracurricular activities.

 

Design by Tennessee Watson

Wyoming lawmakers are coming at shortfalls in education funding from multiple directions as they head into the 2018 Budget Session. Through the work of interim legislative committees, they are looking for efficiencies in education and ways of generating revenue, hoping to meet somewhere in the middle.

Willow Belden

  

A Wyoming legislative committee has been looking to trim education spending out of what is called the school funding model. A Denver-based consulting firm is in the process of reviewing the model to determine how much actually needs to be spent on education in the state.

Meghan Chapman Twitter: @mrs_chapman3

Teachers and educators globally are beginning to incorporate technology more in their classrooms. Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom breaks the walls of classrooms, allowing students to take virtual field trips to museums, zoos, and other institutions. One of the facilities is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. The museum has situated itself to be one of the program’s most prolific partners.

Tennessee Watson

Lawmakers met in Casper this week to examine the current school funding model and to hear recommendations from APA, a Denver-based education consulting firm hired to help the state find efficiencies in education funding.

Wyoming Education Association

Teachers often spend their own money on classroom supplies. Currently, they can be repaid up to $250 of that through a federal tax deduction. But, that’s now up for debate in Congress. The Senate GOP tax plan would double the deduction to $500, but the House plan cuts it all together.

 

Kathy Vetter, president of the Wyoming Education Association, said the deduction is an important vote of support for teachers.

 

"New Hampshire open carry 2009" by Lucio Eastman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

During the Wyoming Legislature’s most recent session, lawmakers passed a bill to give school boards the option to allow guns in K-12 schools under certain circumstances, and the school board in Lander is beginning to consider what to do with the new option. 

 

The WYO Theater Facebook page

The WYO Theater has been a mainstay of downtown Sheridan for decades, hosting live theater, music, and films. Now, after a series of renovations in neighboring buildings, the theater is part of the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center.

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