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Wyoming Works To Fix Teacher Equity Issues

Joanne Johnson via Flickr Creative Commons

Wyoming is waiting on federal approval for its plan to improve equal access to high-quality teachers across the state.

These plans are required under the No Child Left Behind education law. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education ordered all 50 states to revamp them.

Wyoming submitted its new proposal last month. Wyoming Department of Education Chief of Staff Dicky Shanor says the state’s equity planning committee found two major gaps to address.

“The two areas where the Committee and the data identified equity gaps were in teacher turnover—which could also be considered shortage—and then making sure that we have enough highly-qualified special education teachers,” Shanor says.

That means students in ‘high poverty’ and ‘high minority’ schools were more likely to have high teacher turnover in their schools. They were also less likely to learn from quality special educators.

The Committee determined both of these problems were caused by declining applications at teaching colleges and a shortage of interested educators, among other things.

Shanor says the new plan lays out several ways to narrow those gaps—with a couple of major goals.

“Just pointing out the rewarding the careers our high school and college students could have if they chose to enter education—and then—really looking at the University and enhancing the special education programs that they have there,” Shanor says.

UW does not have an undergraduate special education program, just a Master’s program.

The proposal also aims to boost interest in the teaching profession broadly with an extracurricular program that would be for educators what FFA is for farmers.

So far, the Obama Administration has accepted 16 proposals. Wyoming’s is one of 34 still under review.

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