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.

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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.

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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 The current preservation plan was written in 1999 and is now out of date since many buildings now qualify as historic that once did not.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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr Creative Commons

The University of Wyoming’s undergraduate elementary education program has work to do to meet standards for effective teacher training. That’s according to a report released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality—a think tank that pushes for tougher evaluations of classroom teachers. 

The report includes a ranking of U.S. teaching colleges, and found that the vast majority of programs failed to prepare teachers for the classroom.

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Cigarette smoking rates among high school students have dropped significantly in recent decades—in Wyoming and the rest of the country. That’s according to the results of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey released last week. 

Last year, 17 percent of Wyoming high-schoolers reported regularly smoking cigarettes. That’s slightly above the national average, but down from 40 percent in 1991, when the survey began.

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This month, thousands of educators from around the country will gather in Denver to discuss public education issues and set policies for the coming year at the National Education Association’s annual meeting. 

Wyoming Education Association President Kathy Vetter says one the biggest problems in the state is that teachers' perspectives are often absent from policy initiatives in public education.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

Hess Corporation President Greg Hill joined Gov. Matt Mead at The University of Wyoming Thursday to announce the company’s plan to donate $4.3 million more to help build UW’s new energy and engineering research complex.

Hess has now committed a total of $10 million to the university, $8.7 million of which will be matched by state funds.

The gifts support the High Bay Research Facility, which will be used for large-scale experiments and research aimed at tapping ‘unconventional reservoirs.’

Cindy Hill Superintendent

State Superintendent Cindy Hill says if she is elected governor she will push good government measures to make it easier for the public to get documents, she also plans to address conflicts of interest that she sees in government.   

Hill will run as a Republican.  She said that she got into the race because she said Governor Matt Mead exceeded his authority of governor when he signed the law that removed her as the head of the Department of Education. 

After some legal wrangling, State Superintendent Cindy Hill is back in charge of Wyoming Education.  As the school year wraps up, Superintendent Hill joins us to discuss a number of topics.  The first deals with distance…or online education.  She recently attended a graduation of students who graduated from a virtual school. Hill embraces various uses of technology in the classroom.

Andy Dean via Flickr Creative Commons

The Wyoming Department of Education wants federal officials to allow schools labeled as "needing improvement" to provide tutoring and remedial help to students.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools that need improvement—based on state assessments—are not allowed to provide tutoring, forcing students to turn to outside providers.

Brent Young is Assistant Director of Instruction at Laramie County School District 1. He says allowing struggling schools to provide these services is positive.

The Wyoming Department of Education is urging citizens to serve on a science standards review committee.  

Previous science standards generated controversy because they addressed subjects like climate change and evolution. The Department is attempting to get more public involvement in developing a new set of standards.  State Superintendent Cindy Hill says that too few citizens were invited to participate last time.           

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