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.
Kathy Vetter, President of the Wyoming Education Association, taught elementary through high school students in Wheatland during her 30 years in the classroom. She says that teachers’ responsibilities have changed as students’ own roles have changed. “When I started teaching,” says Vetter, “going to school was the student’s job. Now, that’s only one of many jobs students have, that they have to divide their time amongst—and so there’s more pressure on the teachers and the students.”
During discussion on the state budget, legislators held a lengthy debate on whether teachers should be eligible for a one-time bonus intended for all state employees. The bonus is one percent of an employee’s salary.
In the Senate, discussion centered around the fact that some teachers could get raises through school district base salary increases, while other state employees have not received raises for up to four years. Senator Chris Rothfuss pointed out that lawmakers have also denied teachers state pay raises in the last few years. He says that could backfire.