Random Acts of Kindness Week

Dear Superintendents,

February 12-18 is Random Acts of Kindess Week. Thank you for forwarding the memo from several weeks ago–we are hearing about some amazing kindness events taking place in schools next week. In fact, we know of one school planning to “commit” 307 acts of kindess during the week by sending cards to veterans, taking cookies to senior citizens, and more. Earlier this week, Governor Mead signed the first ever proclamation that officially recognizes this unique statewide effort. This is really taking off! If you missed the memo or haven’t heard of any events taking place in your schools, there’s still time–here are a few resources:

Superintendent’s Memo: Random Acts of Kindness Week

National Site: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/
Wyoming Site: http://www.kindnesswyoming.org/

Kindness Wyoming

State Superintendent Jillian Balow stands with Governor Matt Mead, Wyoming Business Alliance Director Bill Schilling, and the Leadership Wyoming group following the proclamation signing for Random Acts of Kindness Week
Governor Mead signs the RAK proclamation with the Kindness Wyoming Team

CTE MONTH/SKILLSUSA WEEK

February is CTE month and we would love to share your CTE students in action on social media. If you know of a program that could be highlighted, please have them send their picture and description to tonya.gerharter@wyo.gov.

A culinary arts teacher addresses her students in the kitchen.
Mrs. Aldrich talks salad science with her students at Triumph HS after they cooked them. (I was sous chef.)
A student shows the progress on his robot to State Superintendent Jillian Balow, and other staff from the WDE and local school district.
SkillsUSA student shows us his search and rescue robot

WYOMING LEGISLATURE

Three weeks remain in the legislative session. Legislators continue to debate school finance in bills and resolutions ranging from new taxes to massive cuts to constitutional amendments. Decisions will begin to coalesce over the next couple of weeks. I remain resolute in my message that the legislature works this session to realize savings, make reductions outside of the funding model, and infuse the foundation account..

FEDERAL EDUCATION

The U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as the new U.S. Secretary of Education. The next day, the U.S. House of Representatives rolled back the regulations for ESSA Accountability. Here are my thoughts on both:

Secretary DeVos-

Grassroots and political opposition preceded DeVos’s appointment and the process received a great deal of media attention and national conversation. It’s important to remember that education governance, especially with the passage of ESSA, is almost entirely in the hands of states and local school districts. President Trump, during his campaign, expressed support for state and local authority over education. This philosophy certainly aligns with my beliefs. I look forward to working with Secretary DeVos and serving as a resource as she learns her way. I will always advocate for all students with Wyoming students in front.

ESSA Accountability-

Congress invoked the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and rolled back promulgated regulations for higher education and ESSA accountability. Higher Ed regs will have an impact on community colleges and UW–that’s for a later update. The rollback on the accountability regs will not significantly impact Wyoming’s work to complete our ESSA plan. Congressional intent in ESSA and flexibility for states is clear and we will continue to move forward at a swift pace toward full implementation of the law. You might recall that I weighed in on proposed accountability rules last summer. All concerns I expressed on behalf of Wyoming were addressed in the final rules. For example, the proposed rules required that states identify schools for improvement using this year’s data. In other words schools would be accountable for growth using indicators that are not yet identified. In the final regs, this, and other concerns, were allayed. In all, not having regulations does not pose much of a challenge for Wyoming–we will keep working together on our state plan and do what is in the best interest of students.

Memos to be released on Monday, February 13:

Jillian