Department of Education

The race for Wyoming’s schools chief was expected to be a close one, but it wasn't. Republican Jillian Balow defeated Democrat Mike Ceballos in the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tuesday night with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Despite his party affiliation, Ceballos earned credibility in deep-red Wyoming with his business leadership experience. He racked up a string of key endorsements, and outspent Balow during the campaign, but Ceballos says he didn’t make his case to enough people.

Screenshot via YouTube

Dean Kelly, the principal at Natrona County High School in Casper resigned Wednesday. The announcement of his resignation followed the news that several staff members were placed on leave for their participation in an inappropriate skit performed at the school.

The Natrona County School District released a video of the incident in question on Tuesday after a records request from the Casper Star-Tribune newspaper. The video and accompanying transcript were redacted to protect privacy.

Phil Roeder via Flickr Creative Commons

Nationwide, including Wyoming, states are working to build huge databases that can track students from preschool all the way into the workforce. In the brave new world of big data, the thought is—more information means smarter education policy decisions and improved learning. But some parents worry that these systems will go too far.

At Laramie County Community College, a classroom full of people is talking about control groups and independent variables. It’s not as exciting as it sounds, but it is important.

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.

A divided Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled that a new law stripping many powers and duties from the state superintendent of public instruction is unconstitutional.

The court's 3-2 ruling Tuesday came in a lawsuit by Republican state schools Superintendent Cindy Hill challenging the law enacted a year ago by the GOP-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Matt Mead.

The law took effect in the middle of Hill's four-year term. The superintendent remained one of the five statewide elected officials but no longer oversaw the Wyoming Department of Education.

Over the years the legislature has not been overly supportive of efforts to fund early childhood education in Wyoming, mostly because of concerns that the state could interfere with private business.  But members of the Joint Education Committee hope that a new proposal can overcome those concerns.  The committee has drafted a bill that will coordinate all the early childhood efforts that currently exist and provide money to improve services.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.                     

It’s been a long year for State Superintendent Cindy Hill.  After legislators determined that she was undermining some of their education reform efforts, they voted to take away her ability to run the state department of education and assigned her to less essential tasks. 

Later a report suggested mistreatment of employees, possible misuse of the state aircraft, and misuse of Department of Education money.  That last piece is being investigated by a legislative committee who is trying to determine if impeachment charges should be brought against Hill. 

The Wyoming Department of Education is putting together a board of teachers to offer advice on several education issues. They’re looking for feedback on teacher training options, classroom needs and potential policy changes.

Chief Strategy Officer for the Department of Education, Leighton Thomas says teachers have valuable firsthand knowledge of the conditions, strengths and needs of the state’s schools.

Wyoming saw a drop in standardized test scores this year.

Third-through-eighth graders saw average scores on the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students – or PAWS – drop by up to seven points in Reading, Math and Science.

Still, the Wyoming Department of Education’s Director of Assessment, Deb Lindsey, says the drops are not statistically significant.

Lindsey says the state introduced higher testing standards last year, pushing some subject matter to earlier grade levels, and asking more from the students overall.

Unless you are new to the state or have lived under a rock, you are aware that the state legislature passed a law that changed the powers of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and placed a Director in charge of Education.  Now lawmakers are investing a report that suggests possible wrong doing by Superintendent Cindy Hill…charges she denies.  It might lead people to worry about education in the state.  But lawmakers want you to know that they continue to try and make change for the better.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck has the story…

wyoming.gov

 

Governor Matt Mead’s office interviewed current and former employees of the Wyoming Department of Education about Superintendent Cindy Hill’s administration there. The Legislature removed the superintendent as head of the Education Department in January. Mead’s office released a report compiling positive and negative feedback Tuesday.
 

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says he is still weighing the attributes of the three finalists for the state’s new Education Director.  The Director would run the State Department of Education.  

Mead has interviewed all three, but says he wants more time to consider them.

A new report shows that the Wyoming Department of Education data collection and processing arm is needs serious improvements.

The Wyoming Department of Education has granted a waiver to a number of school districts in the state who cannot meet a classroom size mandate. 

The state legislature passed a law in 2011 to require Kindergarten through 3rd grade classes to have an average student-teacher ratio of 16 to one.  Interim Education Director Jim Rose says it’s been a challenge for districts to comply with the law.             

“Some districts have hired additional staff, they are requisitioning space that wasn’t used for independent classrooms, K-3 classrooms before.”

The Wyoming State Board of Education met in a teleconference today. Board members have been tasked with finding an executive search firm to assist in recruiting candidates for the newly-created Director of the Department of Education position. The appointed director will take over many of the duties previously entrusted to the elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  

Wyoming Department of Education

After hearing from whistleblowers and attorneys that there may have been irregularities in spending within the State Department of Education, the Wyoming House of Representatives has set aside money to perform a whistleblower audit of the department. 

Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau says Superintendent Cindy Hill has denied that money was spent improperly, but he says the legislature is obligated to determine if there is any truth to the charges and the House will ask for a complete audit.       

Governor Matt Mead says he has met with employees at the State Department of Education and members of the State Board of Education to make sure there will be a smooth transition as they hire a Wyoming Education Director. 

The Legislature stripped many of State Superintendent Cindy Hill’s powers, and she has been relocated to an office a block away from the Department of Education.

Mead said the State Board of Education will submit three names for the governor to consider for Director. He adds that it will be an open search.

  Governor Matt Mead has signed into law a bill that strips powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In turn Superintendent Cindy Hill has filed suit, claiming that the new law is unconstitutional. 

Mead also announced that Community College Director Jim Rose will serve as the interim Director of Education. 

Mead said he did a lot of soul-searching before agreeing to sign the bill.

“I don’t think anybody would view this as a celebration, I think we would view it as a duty we must go forward on for the kids in Wyoming,” Mead says.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

After two weeks of discussion, the Wyoming Legislature has voted to remove some duties from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The legislation awaits the signature of Governor Matt Mead. 

The bill would hand over administration of the State Department of Education to a Governor appointed Director of Education. 

Opponents of the bill once again complained that they were going against voters who supported the election of Superintendent Cindy Hill by a two-to-one margin. 

Rock Springs Republican Stephen Watt again asked the House to slow down.

The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that takes power away from the state superintendent and creates an appointed director to run the Department of Education. 

The Senate voted 20-10 to approve the measure.  Senator Hank Coe blames the move on failures by the State Superintendent Cindy Hill to follow through on legislative mandates, a charge Hill denies.  Coe says Hill has lacked management skills.  He says that’s led to a 40-percent turnover.

The Co-Chairmen of the legislature's Joint Education Committee are sponsoring legislation to create an appointed, Cabinet-level position to administer the Department of Education. The bill would allow the Governor to appoint a director for the Education Department. It would not eliminate the superintendent position, but modify the position’s responsibilities and lessen its power. The legislature comes after tense discussions in the Capitol about Superintendent Cindy Hill’s effectiveness in her position.

But Co-sponsor Representative, Matt Teeters, says this is an old problem.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill says she is looking forward to addressing a legislative committee next week following a report that was critical of her department.

The Legislative Service Office report said that errors and communication problems led to delays in the Department of Education’s ability to provide necessary federal information and required state accountability data.  Hill says the report is inaccurate. 

Cindy Hill Superintendent

State Superintendent Cindy Hill Interview

The 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP  shows that Wyoming eighth graders continue to outperform the national average test score in science. 

The Wyoming Department of Education says that Wyoming students also increased their science scores from those reported in 2009.