education

courtesy UW

Last month the University of Wyoming opened a Literacy Research Center and clinic that should enhance literacy at all levels across the state.  It will allow face to face tutoring, train tutors and teachers, and use technology in interesting new ways.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.  

VICKI GILLIS:  “I see this as being on the cutting edge of work in literacy, K-12, and beyond.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says that he wants the State Board of Education to adopt rigorous science standards.

He recently signed into law a budget footnote that prevents the State Board of Education from adopting a set of national standards called Next Generation Science Standards. The governor says his only objective in doing that was to get the board to consider a variety of options as it develops Wyoming education standards.                

Cindy Hill Superintendent

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill is rejecting an offer from the state attorney general to narrow the scope of a court case that has to be resolved before she can return to running the state education department.
 
Hill said Tuesday the state constitution is not negotiable.
 
Hill filed suit challenging a state law enacted last year that removed her as head of the state education department. The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in January the law is unconstitutional.
 

A change in University of Wyoming course requirements is causing controversy among faculty and students.

The change affects the general education curriculum of the entire university.  Students seeking a bachelor’s degree have to take the courses required under this program.

The new requirements are scheduled to take effect in the Fall of 2015.  It eliminates diversity, global awareness, and foreign language requirements from the required undergraduate curriculum.  It also reduces science and math requirements. 

Josh and Susan Anderson—Evanston natives who met only after they were both going to college in Utah—work for the Uinta County school district. In this story, the couple talks about how they arrived at their vocations.

Both of the Andersons’ children were born in Jackson—the closest hospital to their home at the time, and more than a two hour drive away. Naturally, this left the couple with some wild stories about childbirth on the frontier.

A recent report assessing policies on charter schools throughout the nation says Wyoming has a lot of work to do to make charter schools more accessible and successful. The Executive Director of the Wyoming Association of Public Charter Schools is not surprised.  Kari Cline says Wyoming’s rules are bad and stagnant. 

The University of Wyoming is hosting its first annual jazz festival Thursday, March 27 and Friday, March 28. Both days are filled with concerts by high school and middle school jazz groups from around Wyoming. Guest artists from around the country will provide feedback to the performers and conduct clinics with the groups. UW professor and festival organizer Scott Turpen says first and foremost, the festival is about education.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill made a brief appearance at the State Department of Education in an effort to reclaim her job.  The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that a law that removed many of Hill’s duties is unconstitutional.  

Hill walked into the Department Monday morning with two of her staff members.   After those staff members met with Education Director Rich Crandall she left the building.

Uinta County parents and teachers say they were left out of the decision making process when the school superintendent announced he would scale back art classes in elementary schools to make more time for science.  Superintendent James Bailey says students were only getting about 1 or 2 days of science a week, which wasn’t enough since state assessments will soon be testing kids in science.  But last week, Bailey met with teachers and came up with a possible plan to integrate the two subjects.  He says the plan could actually improve the district’s curriculum.

The Wyoming Senate gave final approval to a bill that sets aside $5 million for school districts to place cameras on school buses to catch motorists who illegally pass stopped buses.

Several senators opposed the bill saying  the focus should be on prevention.  One idea was to add more lights to the buses, so that motorists can't ignore them, but Sheridan Senator Bruce Burns says that won't do much. 

"This is happening 50,000 times a year in this state," Burns says. "I cannot believe that those people are not seeing those buses.  I think they are ignoring that law. "

A bill that would make it easier for alternative schools to be created across the state has received final approval by the Wyoming Senate.  Alternative schools, such as charter schools, attempt to address the special needs of students that may not be successful in more traditional schools.  Under current Wyoming law, it is very difficult to create alternative schools.  The bill will change that.

Wyoming Democrat Mike Ceballos has announced he’ll be running for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Ceballos is a business man without direct experience in education, but he’s been involved in various education foundations and sits on several education-related boards. He says his skill-set is appropriate for the job.   

After a lengthy debate the State Senate approved a bill setting up a super committee to address a Supreme Court ruling about the duties of State Schools Superintendent Cindy Hill. The legislature passed a law last year that removed Hill’s authority to manage the State Department of Education among other things.  The court ruled that law unconstitutional. Some lawmakers want to see if either the Supreme Court or a District Court will help them fix their law.  But Senator Phil Nicholas says that lawmakers should be prepared to move forward without any additional guidance.

The Wyoming Senate is continuing to work on a bill that will set up a so-called super committee to attempt to fix the law that took powers away from Superintendent Cindy Hill.  The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that in particular Hill should run the Department of Education and not an appointed Director.  

During debate on the bill Senator Curt Meier of LaGrange suggested that the Senate provide specific suggestions to the committee.

In an effort to reduce spending in the budget, the State Senate has cut in half the money available to school districts to increase public school teacher salaries. Teachers will get a pay hike in the first year of the biennium, but not the second.

Appropriations Chairman Eli Bebout said that Wyoming teachers are the highest paid in the region.  But Laramie Democrat Chris Rothfuss countered by saying Wyoming is losing purchasing power.

The Wyoming House will consider a bill that would create a committee of educators and parents to determine if the state should continue to use Common Core State standards in K-12 education.  The bill would also develop new student assessment options.  Several teachers, the school board members, and a business leader spoke on behalf of the common core.  Bill Shilling of the Wyoming Business Alliance says that the bill doesn’t help.

“I don’t see in this legislation any advancement in the end product for our students,” says Shilling.

The Wyoming House of Representatives has approved a bill that would require school buses in the state to carry video cameras on the outside.

The cameras would help catch motorists who illegally drive by stopped buses, also known as fly-by's.  Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau opposed the bill, saying that using cameras to spy on people would make him uncomfortable.  Other opponents complained that it should be a local control issue and not something that the state should mandate.

Wyoming Public Media received a CPB grant to strengthen education reporting in Wyoming as part of the national American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen program. This long term national public media commitment, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), assists public broadcasting stations in reporting on a wide array of education issues that impact graduation rates in their communities.  The grant provides partial support for a full-time education reporter for WPM and encourages WPM to build partnerships with education stakeholders in the state. 

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.

Wyoming lawmakers will be asked to continue to fine tune Wyoming’s new school accountability law and develop ways for the state to help school districts improve learning. 

Districts and schools are now receiving accountability scores and under-performers will work with the state to find ways to improve.  State Education Director Rich Crandall says it will allow the state to look at data and work very closely with school districts and help them meet goals.

Micah Schweizer

Teffany Fegler coordinates the University of Wyoming’s  Student Educational Opportunity Center in Ethete, WY. The daughter of two educators, she continues her family's legacy by helping students achieve the dream of going to college.

According to the US Department of Education, US students’ rankings in math and science have slipped.  What can be done to correct this?

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This month Jackson Hole High School will host the annual Teton County Model United Nations conference. Student participants from across Wyoming and Idaho will research and debate pressing global issues, including security and human rights.

Sheridan High School social studies teacher, Andrew Metcalf, says that the model UN not only helps deepen students’ education, but might also open doors for them in the future.

What are your thoughts on bilingual education in Wyoming schools?

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Wyoming’s fourth and eighth grade students outperformed the national average in reading and mathscores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAPE scores.

The test is administered every two years. Wyoming did especially well in 4th grade math where it improved by three points from 2011 and five points from 2009.   State Education Director Rich Crandall is pleased.

University of Wyoming College of Law students delivered an open letter Monday to UW President Bob Sternberg demanding more transparency about their dean’s resignation. College of Law Dean Stephen Easton’s resignation is the latest in a series of departures from the University's top ranks. Since July, five deans have been replaced along with several provosts.

Larry Struempf

Laramie resident Larry Struempf recalls the challenge of learning to read as a college student. He now teaches at Laramie County Community College in Laramie and is working on his doctorate.

Micah Schweizer

Eric Quade remembers one of his teachers at Torrington High School. Since then, Eric has received a PhD in mathematics, which he now teaches at Laramie County Community College in Laramie.

Stories about domestic abuse, burlesque dancing, Buffalo Bill’s chef, and learning to read.

Subscribe to the Wyoming Stories podcast here.

The recent Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, or CREG, report indicated some positive things for Wyoming's revenue picture, but within the report there are also concerns. 

Campbell County Representative Sue Wallis says one serious concern stands out.

"There's a very strong potential of a time...not very far out...when we've got a real problem with our education funding."

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