Category Archives: News Releases

News releases from the Wyoming Department of Education

State Superintendent Jillian Balow’s Statement on Proposed U.S. Department of Education Rule Prioritizing Critical Race Theory Curriculum in K-12 Schools

CHEYENNE – The U.S. Department of Education has proposed priorities for American History and Civics Education grant programs published in the Federal Register. Those priorities include encouraging districts to use curriculum related to divisive author Ibram X. Kendi and the New York Times “1619 Project.” This is an alarming move toward federal overreach into district curriculum and should be rebuked across party lines.

The draft rule is an attempt to normalize teaching controversial and politically trendy theories about America’s history. History and civics should not be secondary to political whim. Instead, history and civics instruction should engage students in objective, non-partisan analyses of historical and current events. For good reason, public schools do not promote particular political ideologies or religions over others. This federal rule attempts to break from that practice and use taxpayer dollars to do just that.

America needs to update and renew our expectations for teaching and learning about history and civics. Every school board, state legislature, and state superintendent should be working to build local consensus about what should be taught and what materials to use in classrooms. Every family should be engaged in activities that ensure the rising generation is properly prepared to be informed citizens. Every student deserves a rich and engaging education about America’s triumphs, treacheries, losses, and victories. Our touchstone is our shared principle that all Americans have infinite value and individual freedom and responsibility. We must strive to find common goals and values as a nation, not tear each other and our country apart.

The proposed federal rule is open for public comment until May 19 and can be accessed here, or by using the Google search for “Federal Register American history and civics education.” I intend to comment, and I urge you to research the issue and comment if compelled.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Wyoming Student Selected to Attend the 2021 National Youth Science Camp

CHEYENNE – Danielle Jones has been selected to represent Wyoming at the 2021 National Youth Science Camp.

Jones will graduate in May from Thunder Basin High School in Gillette and was selected by Governor Mark Gordon to attend the camp.

“This will be a life-changing experience for Danielle,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “No matter what path Danielle takes after high school graduation, she will have a jump on the skills it takes to work and compete in the 21st Century.”

The National Youth Science Foundation cancelled the in-residence portion of the 2021 National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp). Held in West Virginia since 1963, this is only the third time that the annual program has not been held in the Mountain State.

One hundred eight delegates representing the United States, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago will, however, have the opportunity to connect from home for an exclusive virtual program. The 2021 Virtual NYSCamp features a lecture series, directed studies, breakout seminars, special events, and a panel discussion with STEM policy experts.

Support from the National Youth Science Foundation allows delegates to attend the NYSCamp program free of charge.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Public Input Requested for Foreign Language Standards

CHEYENNE – The 2013 Wyoming Foreign Language Content and Performance Standards are up for review, and the Wyoming Department of Education seeks public input for the committee’s consideration during its review.

To give public input on Foreign Language Standards:

  • Review the 2013 Wyoming Foreign Language Content & Performance Standards.
  • Provide input through any of the following options:
    • Complete the Public Input Survey by 11:59 p.m. MDT on May 28, 2021.
    • Attend a virtual Community Input Meeting. The first 15 minutes will be an informational presentation, and the remainder of the time will be to collect input. Attendees may enter and exit the Zoom meeting at any time during the block.
      • 4:30-6 p.m. MDT on Monday, May 10 (click the link to Join Zoom Meeting or Dial +1 346-248-7799, press # when connected).
      • 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. MDT on Thursday, May 13 (click the link to Join Zoom Meeting or Dial +1 346-248-7799, Meeting ID: 918 3716 0704)

The input collected on the Foreign Language Standards will be shared with the Foreign Language Standards Review Committee. 

The WDE also seeks stakeholders interested in reviewing the Wyoming Content & Performance Standards for Foreign Language. Those interested in serving on the Foreign Language Standards Review Committee can complete the Call for Participants Survey by May 28, 2021. Completing a survey expresses interest in participating, but does not commit anyone to serve on the review committee. Standards review committee members will be chosen based on diversity in experience, role, region, and school size.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

WDE Announces ESSER I Reserve Grant Opportunity

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education has announced an opportunity for Wyoming school districts to apply for remaining ESSER I State Education Agency Reserve (SEA reserve) funds. The intent of ESSER I funding is to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools. The authorizing federal legislation identifies allowable uses of funds related to preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19.

Districts can access the application here. Applications for remaining ESSER I SEA reserve funds will be accepted through April 30, 2021, and should be submitted via email to danielle.netzer@wyo.gov.

Approved grant applications will be funded as received until the funds are depleted.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Public Comment extended on Proposed Changes to Accreditation Rules

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education is extending the public comment period on the proposed changes to the Chapter 6 Rules, District and School Accreditation. Public comment may be submitted online, in person, or by mail until 12:59 p.m. on May 6, 2021.

The proposed Chapter 6 Rules changes can be found here. The statement of reasons can be found here.

Send written comments to:
Wyoming Department of Education Attn: Bill Pannell
122 W. 25th Street, Suite E200 Cheyenne, WY 82002

All public comments will be recorded verbatim, including the submitter’s name and city of residence, on the Secretary of State website as part of the rules promulgation process.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Public Input Requested on Math Performance Standards

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education  is collecting public input on the Performance Standards identified for the 2018 Wyoming Math Content and Performance Standards at the request of the State Board of Education (SBE). Previously, all Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) were deemed the Performance Standards to measure student proficiency. The SBE asked the Math Standards Review Committee to identify a subset of PLDs to be the Performance Standards, on which students will be assessed through the district assessment system.

1. Review the Proposed 2021 Math Performance Standards.

2. Provide input through any of the following options:

a. Complete the Math Performance Standards Public Survey by 11:59 p.m. on April 28, 2021.

b. Attend the virtual public input meeting from 4:30-6 p.m. MST on April 22, 2021. (Join Zoom Meeting or dial +1 346 248 7799)

c. Attend the virtual public input meeting from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. MST on April 26, 2021. (Join Zoom Meeting or dial +1 346 248 7799)

3. The input collected on the Performance Standards will be shared with the SBE.

For more information, contact Alicia Wilson, Math Consultant, at 307-777-5036 or alicia.wilson@wyo.gov  or Barb Marquer, Standards Supervisor, at 307-777-5506 or barb.marquer@wyo.gov.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Public Input Sought on 2021 State System of Support, Federally-Funded Title Programs

CHEYENNE – Wyoming school personnel, parents, and community members are invited to participate in four education program surveys to help determine what activities and pertinent professional development training is offered by the Wyoming Department of Education to further support school districts through the State System of Support and specific federally funded Title programs.

Participants are encouraged to review the individual survey descriptions and complete all applicable surveys. Those surveys include:

  • Statewide System of Support Survey: requests input from district and school personnel regarding professional development topics, desired meeting times/options, and multi-tiered systems of support implementation.
  • Federal Title I Survey: requests input from all stakeholders on use of state level federal dollars to support Title I schools and schools in improvement status.
  • Federal Title II-A Survey: requests input from all stakeholders on use of state level federal dollars to support the professional development needs of teachers, principals, and other school leaders.
  • Federal Title IV-A Survey: requests input from all stakeholders on use of state level federal dollars to increase access to a well-rounded education for all students, supporting safe and healthy school environments, and increasing access to learning supported by technology.

The surveys will be open until March 31, 2021.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Wyoming Students Selected for United States Senate Youth Program

CHEYENNE – Zoe Marie Crisp and Grace Fain Steenbergen will join Senator John Barrasso and Senator Cynthia Lummis in representing Wyoming during the 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) Washington Week, set for March 14—17, 2021.

Zoe Crisp of Jackson and Grace Steenbergen of Burns were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who will each also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 program will break ground as the first-ever fully virtual Washington Week, and is designed to be a highly interactive and exciting education and leadership forum for the nation’s most outstanding student leaders.

The USSYP was established by the U.S. Senate in 1962, and provides an educational experience for students interested in public service careers. The program provides an in-depth view of the Senate and federal government, as well as a deeper understanding of the relationships between the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Branches. During the program week, the student delegates will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies and senior members of the national media, among others.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Wyoming delegates and alternates were designated by  Jillian Balow, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Zoe Crisp, a senior at Jackson Hole High School, serves as the co-president of the student council, and has assisted new high school students and parents in the incoming Ninth Grade Open House, acted as a student peer tutor to Middle School students in the Student to Student Peer Tutoring program, assisted local veterans during the schoolwide annual Veterans Day event, completed a community based internship at the Mannen and Browne Law Firm as a part of completion of the Jackson Hole High School School to Career Program, and has facilitated many school wide events. One of these events included the organization of student to student round table discussions, where students from all backgrounds and grades discussed race, equality and inclusion for all. Zoe’s future plans include majoring in political science at the College of Charleston and then law school.

Grace Steenbergen, a junior at Burns Junior-Senior High School, serves as the vice president of the student council. Grace is a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Future Business Leaders of America, 4-H, and the Future Farmers of America, where she has served as the Greenhand president, secretary and reporter over several years. She volunteers with the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, the Wyoming Hunger Initiative and the Wyoming Equality Group. Grace earned her bronze and silver Wyoming Congressional Award medals and served as the Intermediate National Ambassador for the American Gelbvieh Association. Grace’s future plans include graduating high school in 2022, and attending Oklahoma State University where she will focus her undergraduate studies in animal science and biochemistry. She plans to earn a  Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.

Chosen as alternates to the 2021 program are both residents of Laramie, Collin Krueger, and  Leila Johnson, who attend Laramie High School.

Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings the most exceptional high school students – two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity – to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. However, this year, the program will be held online. The mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.

For more information, visit: www.ussenateyouth.org

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Statement to President Biden Penned by Five State Superintendents and Commissioners of Education

CHEYENNE – On February 17, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow submitted a letter to President Joe Biden on behalf of State Superintendents and Commissioners representing North Dakota, Montana, Alaska and Utah. The letter, which follows, expresses the five education representatives opposition to the actions taken to ban oil and gas leases on federal land and to curtail production and transmission of the commodities.

The Honorable Joseph Biden
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

February 17, 2021

Dear Mr. President:

It is unusual that state education leaders would be in a position to warrant this letter. We write to oppose the actions taken to ban oil and gas leases on federal land and to curtail production and transmission of the commodities. Specifically, 1) The Department of the Interior’s Order 3395 places a moratorium on new mining, oil, and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands, off and onshore; 2) Section 208 of the Climate Crisis Executive Order places a “pause” on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters; and allows for review and reconsideration of  federal oil and gas permitting and leasing.

As state education chiefs we have appreciated generous access to your education transition team and we had multiple opportunities to discuss schools safely reopening, student well-being, and academic priorities. We are also enthused that U.S. Secretary of Education nominee, Miguel Cardona, most recently served as a state education chief, and well understands the critical leadership role that we have as state leaders. We look forward to working collaboratively on many education issues. Thus, it is imperative that we bring to light the arbitrary and inequitable move to shut down oil and gas production on federal lands in our states that depend on revenues from various taxes, royalties, disbursements, and lease payments to fund our schools, community infrastructure, and public services.

  • In Wyoming, the oil and natural gas industry contributed $740 million in funding for K-12 education and $28 million to Wyoming’s higher education system in 2019. 92% of all natural gas and 51% of oil produced in Wyoming comes from federal lands. The ban translates into the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for education and 13,300 direct jobs in a state of 500,000.
  • In Montana, $30 million in revenue is at-risk, along with over 3,000 jobs.
  • In North Dakota, the lease moratorium would result in 13,000 lost jobs over four years, along with $600 million in lost tax revenue and a $750 million loss in personal income. North Dakota’s oil and gas industry accounts for 24,000 direct jobs in the state.
  • In Utah, $72 million in revenue is at risk with 11,000 jobs at stake.
  • In Alaska, over $24 million in state revenue is tied to federal leases for oil and natural gas, along with 3,500 jobs.

As state education chiefs, we place equity and quality at the forefront of policy making. We care deeply about clean air and clean water for future generations. And, we advocate fiercely for adequate funding for all students in all schools. Reform of the industry is necessary and can be accomplished, but not by abruptly restricting industries that define our culture and the generate revenue on which so many rely.

Mr. President, as state education leaders, we are uniquely positioned to think about how to support and fund education for the next generation. Given support by your administration, in the form of an exemption from orders that diminish the oil and natural gas industry, our states can continue to diversify and innovate the industry and fund education. Our shared goals are a reduced global carbon footprint, protected wildlife, and quality educational opportunities for all children.

We thank you for your consideration and we welcome a continued conversation.

Respectfully,

Jillian Balow, Wyoming Elected State Superintendent
Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota Elected State Superintendent
Elsie Arntzen Montana Elected State Superintendent
Michael Johnson, Alaska Governor-appointed State Commissioner
Sydnee Dickson, Utah Board-appointed State Superintendent

Cover Letter

Signed Letter

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Public Input Requested for Proposed Science Performance Standards

CHEYENNE – The 2016 Wyoming Science Content and Performance Standards have been updated to meet the request of the State Board of Education (SBE) to identify Performance Standards. Content Standards are what students should know and be able to do, and Performance Standards specify the degree of understanding. Districts are expected to assess students on Performance Standards through the District Assessment System. 

For Public Input on Science Performance Standards:

The input collected on the Performance Standards will be shared with the SBE.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov