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January 14, 2014 8:38 am

Continued fight over Hill shows need for change in process

Written by Tessa Schweigert

It may be a new year, but Wyoming finds itself in a very similar position as last January.

Once again, legislators are questioning the actions of Cindy Hill, the superintendent of public instruction. And once again, she is denying any wrongdoing and disputing how legislators are handling the process.

Last year, this scenario played out with the Wyoming Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead enacting Senate File 104, a law to strip the superintendent’s office of most powers.

This year, it could end with Hill facing impeachment by the full Wyoming House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Hill has challenged the constitutionality of Senate File 104, and the Wyoming Supreme Court will decide on her lawsuit filed last year.

It’s also worth noting that Hill officially launched her campaign for governor on Wednesday, within hours of testifying before the Legislature’s Select Investigative Committee.

If it all seems like a lot of political drama, that’s because it is.

That’s why amid the continued controversy, friction, frustration and cries of a political witch hunt, we think it’s appropriate for the head of the department of education to be appointed, not elected.

Education shouldn’t be about politics.

At the local level, we trust elected school board leaders to hire the superintendent. Similarly, elected Northwest College trustees choose the president for that institution. It only makes sense for a similar process to be followed at the state level. The heads of Wyoming’s transportation, wildlife and energy agencies are all appointed, not elected.

Richard Crandall was appointed by Mead to run the Wyoming Department of Education, and he took office last summer. Hill, left with largely ceremonial duties and the right to serve on some state boards, is a superintendent without a department.

We believe last week’s hearings confirmed that Hill is not qualified to lead the Department of Education. Hill struggled to recall details, gave unclear answers and had to be asked the same questions multiple times. We understand she was in a difficult position, but we also expect elected leaders to have a clear understanding of what has occurred in their departments.

Keep in mind that Wyoming has spent more than a billion dollars on education annually since Hill took office. Wyoming invests an incredible amount in education, and it was alarming to hear the superintendent struggle to answer questions about the department’s actions under her leadership.

Regardless of what is happening in Cheyenne, we know hard work continues in local classrooms. We’re proud of Powell teachers and administrators for ensuring that students here receive a quality education.

Moving forward, we hope lawmakers will focus on the basics of education — not the politics.

2 comments

  • Comment Link January 16, 2014 7:34 am posted by TN

    The real issue is the witch hunt instigated by a certain Cody bigot.

  • Comment Link January 18, 2014 12:15 pm posted by BB

    Silly comment TN. Hill has not demonstrated any leadership qualities. And continues to do so at each public speaking. Isn't time for us to forget Hill on focus on our kids education, please, let's move on, our kids are not getting any younger

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