Early Childhood Education

Aaron Schrank

Wyoming spends a lot of money educating its children. The state comes in sixth place in per-student spending for K-12. But when you look at outcomes—like graduation rates—we’re stuck in the middle of the pack. Some educators say the key to boosting student performance is to put more focus on children before they start kindergarten.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

Educators from across Wyoming gathered in Sheridan over the weekend to discuss the future of early childhood education in the state.  

Wyoming is one of 10 states with no state-funded preschool, but early learning is available—mostly to low-income families—through programs like Head Start—and special education preschools.

The group heard presentations about the latest science on early brain development and looked at studies showing that spending on early education has more impact on learning outcomes than spending later in life.

A bill that many people called the most important education measure this session has died after failing to get the necessary two thirds support for introduction in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

The bill would have empowered the Wyoming Department of Education to coordinate early childhood learning in the state and would have made money available to help enhance pre-school and day care programs in the state.  But state involvement in the program made many nervous, including House Education Committee Chairman Matt Teeters who's committee studied the issue last year.

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.