education

Tennessee Watson

Wyoming’s gubernatorial and congressional races are in full swing, and starting Wednesday things are heating up for those interested in a seat on their local school board. Candidates have until August 27 to declare their intention to run in November.

Ivory Brien is Really Good at Basketball, Flathead Reservation, Montana, 2016 by Sue Reynolds.

The new website Everyday Native highlights the use of photography and poetry to help bridge the gap between Native and non-Native students alongside their teachers. 

thecuriositycube.com

Pharmaceuticals and biosciences company MilliporeSigma is stopping in Laramie this week to showcase its “Curiosity Cube.” What used to be a 22 by 10-foot shipping container is now a mobile science lab with interactive experiments. The Curiosity Cube allows kids to experience different technologies like high-tech microscopes, virtual reality, and 3D printers. 

Wyoming Equality


Starting this fall, Wyoming Equality will offer scholarships specifically for LGBTQ students. Melanie Vigil, the Co-Chair for the organization’s board, spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Maggie Mullen about how the scholarships will be the first of their kind in the state.

Megan Goodner

Award-winning musician Gaelynn Lea is a one-woman show. The NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Concert winner plays whimsical and haunting violin lines, looping them while she sings both hopeful and somber lyrics over top. As she sings, Lea holds the violin in an original way—upright, like a cello—to accommodate her small frame.

Two Native Americans were pulled out of a college tour this week when a parent told campus police the young men were making her nervous.

Milonica at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs will host trainings and listening sessions in the coming months, in response to a study by a consultant that found dissatisfaction among employee groups.  

Tennessee Watson

Laramie High School students were transported to the future Tuesday and asked to handle life as an adult; paying for groceries, housing, health insurance, and childcare just to name a few expenses. The activity, facilitated by Laramie County Community College, is called "Reality Town," and it’s designed to help teach financial literacy.

State school administrators oppose funding cuts during a 2018 legislative hearing.
Bob Beck

Education was a main topic of discussion during most of the legislative session. As the legislature comes to a close, K-12 education took a $30 million cut and a couple of constitutional amendments that could have done further damage failed. Senate Education Chairman Hank Coe and Senate Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss join Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck to size up what happened.

Wyoming Department of Education

Following the recent shootings in Florida and Kentucky, educators and policymakers across the country are asking questions about school safety and security. Last year Wyoming’s state legislature made it possible for local school boards to decide as a community whether or not to arm trained staff.

Tennessee Watson

The Wyoming House of Representatives wrapped up week one of the 2018 Budget Session on Friday shortly before 3:30 p.m., which has some policymakers disappointed.

 

The last day to introduce bills, the early adjournment meant there were over 15 bills that got the ax without even being discussed. House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly said the House never got to discuss a tobacco tax, a sales and use tax rate and changes to a real estate tax, among others.

 

Wyoming Department of Education

In his State of the State address, Governor Matt Mead urged the legislature to find ways to stabilize education funding, which relies heavily on revenues from the energy industry. But attempts to diversify the tax base — to protect school finance from booms and busts — have gone nowhere. Lawmakers who oppose generating new revenue sources say school finance is too opaque. They want more time to settle their uncertainty.

 

Ten months and $800,000 later, the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration has completed its in-depth look at how Wyoming finances education. Members of APA Consulting, who were tasked with examining the equity and adequacy of the school funding model, told lawmakers the state’s current approach works but pointed out areas for improvement. Despite a recommendation to spend more, lawmakers are opting to spend less.

Kamila Kudelska

As lawmakers are discussing whether to add computer science and computational thinking to the state educational curriculum, they are looking to Powell as an example. Powell is one of only five school districts teaching computer science. Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska takes a deeper dive into how their curriculum has developed and persisted throughout the years.

Tennessee Watson

Despite 10 months of work, a legislative committee has rejected changes to the school funding model. After examination, APA Consulting produced a similar price tag for funding K-12 education as what the state was spending before the last round of cuts.

 

In its last meeting before the legislative session, the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration refused to adopt the new model suggested by APA.

 

As policymakers head into the 2018 Budget Session, education is a topic many will be watching. Wyoming Public Radio's Tennessee Watson joined Morning Edition Host Caroline Ballard to examine what might be in store after education consultants hired by the state recommended giving more money to education instead of implementing cuts.

Graphics from Education Week. Layout by Tennessee Watson

Wyoming was given a B-minus score for its education quality, according to recently released data in Education Week’s report Quality Counts 2018. That puts it above the national average of a C, and the seventh best in the nation.

 

The grades are based on three criteria: chance for success, K-12 achievement, and school finance.

commons.wikimedia.org

A proposal to increase the recommended average class size in Wyoming schools is part of what lawmakers are reviewing in preparation for the 2018 Legislative Budget Session. Increasing class size has been discussed by policy makers as way to reduce costs.

 

The Park County School District #6 school board in Cody voted Tuesday to table the first reading of a policy which would allow employees to carry firearms. The decision to postpone further action comes with the condition that the board send out a survey to teachers and the community within the next month.

During the meeting, board members expressed concern that budget and insurance questions posed by the public were still unanswered.

Tennessee Watson

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act was one of the bipartisan triumphs of 2017. Referred to as the “Forever GI Bill,” it makes significant changes to education benefits for service members and veterans, like no longer requiring them to use their benefits within 15 years of active-duty service. But supporting veterans in higher education is more complicated than just giving them more time.

 

Marty Martinez spent 29 years in the military before coming to the University of Wyoming.

 

Kamila Kudelska

Most of those who spoke at a public hearing Monday night in Cody told the Park County District #6 school board that they did not support a proposal to allow armed personnel in public schools.

Two-thirds of those testifying said that guns should be the last, not first security measure. Instead, money should go into introducing smarter security technologies in school buildings. Yetzi Daren Jobaner said even in Wyoming there are places guns don't belong.

Kamila Kudelska

Shannon Hill shuffled into the gymnasium of her middle school, thinking it was just another school assembly. But instead, the teacher got the surprise of her lifetime.

Hill, a middle school physical education and health teacher in Thermopolis, was presented with what has been dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” award, which comes with an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000. Hill is the only winner of the Milken Educator Award for 2017-2018 from Wyoming out of 44 honorees throughout the nation.

 

Wyoming Sexual Violence Prevention Council

Most states have existing laws or pending legislation requiring public schools to teach sexual violence prevention. That leaves Wyoming as one of the few states with absolutely nothing on the books. The Wyoming Sexual Violence Prevention Council is working to fill that gap by supporting a growing network of local projects; among them is a program that works with K-12 student athletes.

Screenshot from the APA Consulting survey

Leading up to the 2018 budget session, Wyoming lawmakers hired education consultants to study the school funding model.

 

The idea was to find ways the state can save money while still meeting its constitutional obligation to provide all students with a proper education. The consultants have released a 552-page draft of their recommendations and they’re taking public feedback through an online survey.

 

Anna Rader

As part of our series, “I Respectfully Disagree,” Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards journeyed into the heart of Wyoming’s coal country to the city of Gillette up in the northeast corner. Recently, it’s become an intensely divided community. In the last election, Wyoming went in greater percentage to Donald Trump than any other state, but Campbell County was one of the counties that supported Trump more than any other in Wyoming.

Map from pixabay.com Image by Tennessee Watson

Consultants hired by the state legislature to help Wyoming bring efficiencies to the school funding model are asking lawmakers to consider adding a voluntary pre-K program for 4-year-olds.

The consultants found that investing in early childhood education could reduce K-12 resource needs in the long run, like more expensive interventions required for closing achievement gaps with older students. Wyoming is one of seven states without a statewide preschool program.

Tennessee Watson

Nicole Rapp is the principal at Crest Hill Elementary School in Casper. Last February, she took a road trip with some of her staff to Sheridan to see one of the state’s highest-performing districts in action.

“Our excitement when we got back in that car that day to drive back to Casper was just wow. It is different," Rapp said.   

She said that’s because Sheridan School District #2 uses the Professional Learning Community model—or PLC—where teachers and administrators work in collaborative teams to support student learning.

cityofcody-wy.gov

The Wyoming state legislature passed a law in March allowing school districts to choose whether their employees can carry firearms. Legislatures said the law would help many rural schools in Wyoming that are far away from law enforcement to react to an armed intruder. So far, a couple of school districts have begun to debate the possibility of introducing such a policy.

Park County School District #6 in Cody is the first school board actually working on drafting a policy that will be introduced to the public on January 8.

Willow Belden

  

A Wyoming legislative committee has been looking to trim education spending out of what is called the school funding model. A Denver-based consulting firm is in the process of reviewing the model to determine how much actually needs to be spent on education in the state.

Meghan Chapman Twitter: @mrs_chapman3

Teachers and educators globally are beginning to incorporate technology more in their classrooms. Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom breaks the walls of classrooms, allowing students to take virtual field trips to museums, zoos, and other institutions. One of the facilities is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. The museum has situated itself to be one of the program’s most prolific partners.

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