State schools

Republican nominee for public schools superintendent drops out of race to back incumbent | Education

Republican candidate Thomas Kelly dropped out of the race for state superintendent of public instruction on Monday to give incumbent Brian Schroeder a better chance.

“Brian is the only other candidate who really seems to appeal to the federal government’s attempts to influence Wyoming through monetary policy, and he has a better chance of winning than me,” Kelly said. “It made no sense for me to stay for my own personal ego.”

Schroeder said in a statement Monday that he was “honored to work this campaign” with Kelly and “beyond honored to have her vote…”

“As a force in this campaign, he was not only principled, honest and courageous, he also effectively advanced the Conservative cause.”

The Wyoming State Central Committee nominated Kelly, alongside Schroeder and former lawmaker Marti Halverson, as a candidate for the post after former state superintendent Jillian Balow left the post to take up a post. similar in Virginia.

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Kelly, who chairs the Department of Political and Military Science at American Military University, got 67 votes, Halverson 56 votes and Schroeder 52 votes. But Gov. Mark Gordon eventually nominated Schroeder for the job, with a term that ends in January 2023. Schroeder formally filed his candidacy for the superintendent race in mid-May.

Schroeder has strongly denounced in several statements a federal reinterpretation of discrimination protections involving schools.

On May 5, the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it would reinterpret the prohibition of discrimination based on sex in Title IX to include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

This means that any organization that receives money from the Food and Nutrition Service must “investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation” and “update its policies and signage.” of non-discrimination to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation”. guidance,” the USDA statement read.

The Wyoming schools chief suggested a federal update on non-discrimination on gender and sexual orientation would impact pronouns and locker rooms, as advice he received behind the scenes indicated opposite.

Wyoming receives money from the Food and Nutrition Service for a variety of nutrition programs. The USDA did not tell the Star-Tribune directly that it would withdraw funds from entities that do not comply with the update. But that’s usually what happens in case of non-compliance.

“While not surprising, it is nonetheless both disheartening and astonishing that our federal government can become so cynical that it ties school lunches for small children to its ever-relentless agenda of social engineering,” Schroeder said. in one of his statements on this subject.

Representatives from Wyoming Equality, the Wyoming Education Association and the ACLU called out Schroeder for his denunciation of the non-discrimination update. Others have also said his statements hurt the LGBTQ+ students the Non-Discrimination Update is meant to protect.

Schroeder then called on Wyoming to reject federal money and cover the cost of nutrition programs alone. Some people don’t think that’s realistic, given that Wyoming already struggles with education funding.


Can Wyoming pick up the slack if it rejects federal school lunch money?

The $40 million Wyoming would need each year to pay for school lunches would add to the roughly $300 million annual shortfall in education funding the state already grapples with.

Other than the USDA non-discrimination update, Kelly said he couldn’t think of any other federal attempts to “influence Wyoming” at this time.

“I just know this is the first attempt by the federal government, and it won’t be the last,” he said.

In Monday’s statement announcing his withdrawal from the race, Kelly told his supporters that they have helped “steer the narrative of not just the superintendent’s race, but other races statewide.” .

“We have sounded the alarm over the federal incursion into the Wyoming way of life, and other candidates have picked up that torch to carry on,” he said.

Kelly had not told Schroeder beforehand of her decision to quit.

“The only conversation I ever had with Brian about voting or elections was a joke we had where I said ‘listen, Brian, you’re a good man. But I don’t think I’ll vote for you. .”

Kelly said Schroeder emailed her on Monday saying he was surprised after hearing the news.

“It was just an email, saying, ‘My sense of humor aside, I ended up voting for you, Brian, and I’m out of the running,’ and he said he was surprised, but thank you.”

There are now four Republican candidates and one Democratic candidate left in the race for superintendent.


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Former Wyoming Department of Education policy director Megan Degenfelder announced her candidacy for the election in early April. She also vied for the position when Balow left, but garnered only enough votes to place fourth. She is currently Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Morningstar Partners Oil & Gas.


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Schroeder, the former principal of Veritas Academy, a private Christian school in Cody, has experience as a family and youth coordinator and as a teacher and administrator at private schools in California, Wisconsin, Michigan and in Wyoming.


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Casper-based substitute teacher and cosmetologist Jennifer Zerba and Rock Springs underground trona miner Robert White also threw in their hats, both on the last day to apply.

Sergio Maldonado, a member of the Northern Arapaho tribe, is the only Democratic candidate. He has served as a teacher, college administrator, and school counselor in Arizona and Wyoming. In 1989, while living in Arizona, former President George HW Bush nominated him for a term on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. He also served as a liaison with the Northern Arapaho Tribe under former Governor Matt Mead.


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