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April 23, 2013 7:10 am

EDITORIAL: State leaders must focus on what matters: quality education

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Name-calling, bullying, intimidation and threats often occur on playgrounds. Unfortunately, the same has been true in Wyoming’s education system in recent months.

Since the beginning of this year, much of the discussion regarding education in Wyoming has centered around the highly controversial Senate File 104. The law removed Superintendent Cindy Hill as the head of the Wyoming Department of Education, taking away many of her responsibilities and transferring them to a director appointed by the governor.

We realize serious issues existed in the Wyoming Department of Education and believe changes were necessary. A majority of lawmakers moved forward with a solution, but it’s uncertain whether Senate File 104 will stand as a constitutional law.

In the months that have followed lawmakers’ January decision, little has been resolved. Arguments and allegations from both sides continue in press releases, statements and letters, while a legal challenge is pending before the Wyoming Supreme Court. Debate and tension will likely remain even after the court decides.

If bill opponents succeed in gathering enough signatures for a referendum, Wyoming voters ultimately will be called upon to have the last say.

In a 32-page report released earlier this month, legislative leaders outlined why Senate File 104 was adopted and the Department of Education reorganized.

Supt. Hill may not be calling the shots anymore, but she certainly hasn’t been silent.

Last week, an Emblem attorney representing Hill called the legislative report libelous. A letter sent to Rep. Rosie Berger, R-Big Horn, demanded proof of all the statements within 10 days, saying legal action would be taken to protect Hill’s reputation and integrity.

In response, Berger released a statement Friday that she will resist intimidation tactics, and “… without regard to facts, the choice was made to attack me personally.”

Last week’s exchange is just the latest development in an ongoing battle. Many Park County residents recall when Supt. Hill and Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, squared off during a local radio program last summer.

Wyoming invests so much in education, and it’s disappointing to see political wrangling sidetrack leaders from focusing on the basics of improving education.

We would like to see statewide discussion focus on what our teachers are doing right, how instruction can improve and the ways students are succeeding. As Gov. Matt Mead said in January, that’s what we want to see dominate headlines.

“What I’ve never heard through the debate is this: ‘It’s not an issue. Wyoming is exactly where it wants to be on education. It’s never been better. We have achieved educational excellence,’” Mead said. “I’ve not heard that this year. I didn’t hear that last year. And I ask the question of all of you: when’s the last time in Wyoming that we heard that?”

Regardless of the outcome of court decisions and public debates, the end goal must not be about winning political scuffles. No matter which side you’re on, Wyoming must focus on what really matters: quality education for our children.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link April 23, 2013 12:48 pm posted by TN

    They can't focus,they are too busy being back stabbing RINO's for big money.

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