State schools

Candidates start applying to replace Superintendent of Public Schools | Wyoming News

Less than a week after the official resignation of Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow, the Republican State Central Committee is preparing to name three possible replacements.

The central committee will meet on Saturday to vote on three candidates. Governor Mark Gordon will then choose one of the three to hold the post until January next year.

So far, at least four candidates have submitted their applications: two teachers with doctorates in education, a former Balow cabinet minister and a former state legislator.

Although the Wyoming Constitution does not require candidates to have some experience in the state’s public education system, these four candidates have a long history in and around Wyoming’s public school.

Reagan Kaufman, teacher at South High School in Cheyenne who won 2018 Teacher of the Year for Laramie County School District #1stated in her application that she had experience “in all levels of education, from early childhood to post-secondary.”

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According to his resume, Kaufman has three degrees from the University of Wyoming, all in education: a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in social studies, a master’s of arts degree in teaching United States history, and a doctorate. in the curriculum and teaching.

“In this post, I will call for a significant revision of Wyoming’s social studies standards with an emphasis on civics and economics education,” Kaufman wrote in her cover letter. “I will increase equity and access for students across the state, but especially in rural areas, to diverse and advanced coursework, quality vocational and technical training, and bilingual immersion programs. to ensure that Wyoming graduates compete best in the global marketplace.

As an “educator in Wyoming for 30 years,” Michelle Aldrich said in her application that she had “the ability to lead the Wyoming Department of Education through this difficult time while maintaining momentum.”

She is currently the State Director of Career and Technical Education at the Wyoming Department of Education. Aldrich also has experience in early childhood education, secondary and post-secondary education levels,” according to his cover letter.

Aldrich has his doctorate. in Adult Learning and Technology from the University of Wyoming.

Megan Degenfelder is the former director of policy for the Wyoming Department of Education and now works as a manager at an oil and gas company. For context, the current policy director replaces Balow until the acting superintendent is selected.

“I’ve built a career around Wyoming’s greatest resources — natural resources and our youth, which continue to be attacked by the federal government,” Degenfelder said in her cover letter. “America has the best education system in the world, but it’s being attacked from within like never before,” she later added.

Without saying so expressly, Degenfelder indicated in her candidacy that she opposes teaching critical race theory — an academic framework for examining how racism is entrenched in the nation’s society — in classrooms. of Wyoming. She noted that she plans to “ardently” support the Civics and Transparency Act, a bill that has been introduced for the next legislative session in an effort to keep critical race theory out of Wyoming classrooms in creating an online directory of all teaching materials and programs used. in each school by grade level.

David Northrup, a former Park County State Rep, also threw his hat in the ring.

He is currently a member of the RIDE (Reimagining and Innovating the Delivery of Education) advisory group, which is tasked with developing recommendations to improve the state’s education system.

Northrup helped chair the Joint Legislative Assembly Committee on Education for four years, on which he served for a total of seven years. He also served on the Joint Revenue Committee for three years.

Previously, Northrup taught geology from 1990 to 1995 at Northwest College and served on the Park County School District No. 1 board of trustees from 1999 to 2012, according to his resume.

According to state statusthe Republican State Central Committee is tasked with choosing nominees for acting superintendent, as Balow was a member of the GOP.

The central committee consists of the chairman and wife of the state committee and the state committee member from each of the Republican parties at the county level in Wyoming. This is equivalent to 69 voters if everyone is present.

Those three candidates will then be sent to Gordon, a Republican, who will have five days to choose one to fill Balow’s spot for the next 12 months. His term was due to end in January 2023.

To choose one, Gordon will conduct face-to-face interviews with each of the three nominees, said Michael Pearlman, the governor’s director of communications.

“He hopes that the three candidates who are proposed for his consideration have, among other qualities, a dedication to children and an understanding of the importance of public education and what it means for the future of Wyoming,” Pearlman said in a statement. “He also thinks it’s important that they have a wide range of backgrounds because the Superintendent of Public Instruction also sits on the State Loan and Investment Board, the State Board of Land Commissioners and the State Building Commission. “

Exactly how the central committee selection process will work will be determined at the start of Saturday’s meeting. The committee will have the opportunity to vote on and modify the proposed rules that govern the meeting and clarify how the superintendent selection process will work.

Balow’s resignation comes at a pivotal time in Wyoming’s educational future. Equality State’s K-12 education system has long been one of the best-funded in the nation due to fossil fuel money, but that revenue stream alone can no longer support education. K-12.

During the last general session, after a month of debate in the committee rooms and on the floor, no chamber could reach an agreement. No changes have been made to how Wyoming pays for education.

Additionally, critical race theory and the removal of certain books from school libraries have become hot issues.

In September, Balow appeared with two top senators to introduce the Civic Education and Transparency Act. The superintendent was clear that the bill was intended to challenge critical race theory.

“When it comes to politics in the classroom, I have made it clear that partisan politics and radical theories should not be forced upon our children,” Balow said in his statement.

Critical Race Theory is not currently taught in Wyoming schools.

Balow began her teaching career in Hulett. Over the next 25 years, she served as a national literacy consultant, executive in state government, policy advisor in the governor’s office, and state superintendent of public instruction. Under Balow, Wyoming schools remained in-person for most of the pandemic, unlike many other public schools across the country.

Follow state political reporter Victoria Eavis on Twitter @Victoria_Eavis