Wyoming Education Association

Fall 2021

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Interim committees have been dedicatedly working on considering draft legislation in advance of the February 2022 Budget Session. During a July meeting of the Joint Education Committee, lawmakers considered a surprising draft bill from Senator Charlie Scott, which was meant to address what's become a contentious issue across the nation: Critical Race Theory (CRT). A 7-7 vote defeated the bill. In Septembe r, State Superintendent Jillian Balow, President of the Senate Dan Dockstader, and Senate Majority Floor Leader Ogden Driskill unveiled their collaborative bill addressing Critical Race Theory. The bill outlines a requirement for districts to post "a list of the learning material and activities that were used for student instruction during the preceding school year." It would also mandate instruction in s elect elements of the Constitution and American ideals with specific requirements around women's suffrage, slavery, and equality. While WEA supports communities and families in their right to be active collaborators in students' education, this bill, as it's written, could inhibit educators' creativity in lesson planning and create a bureaucratic burden on districts and educators to report materials used in lessons. It is WEA's position that it is outside the purview of the Legislature to mandate curriculum. Rather, this process should be left to the State Board of Education and our state standards development and adoption process. Our current process is rigorous and detailed, it allows for expert and community, and other stakeholder engagement and input, and it's served Wyoming students well to date. The Wyoming Education Association looks forward to working with Senators Driskill and Dockstader on potential revisions to this bill as this bill looks to be a functioning compromise on the issue of CRT and will hopefully quell the need for additional or far more pejorative bills related to this issue. By: Tate Mullen July's Joint Interim Education Committee meeting also focused heavily on streamlining and improving K-3 reading assessment and intervention programs. Much of the focus during this discussion centered on districts' ability to improve K-3 reading scores by implementing consistent assessment tools and better preparing educators to recognize indicators of dyslexia. We know that a student's ability to read at grade level by 3rd grade has substantial implications on that student's future academic pe rformance. Ultimately that academic performance will impact adult career outcomes for students. WEA will continue to follow developments around legislation impacting reading assessments and support those that members and literacy experts know are best for students. The WEA Government Relations Department has been working closely with the Governor's office on districts' responses to COVID-19 in this new sc hool year. In the absence of statewide mandates, districts and locals are navigating their individual responses to the best of their ability—trying to find inclusive solutions that respect everyone's wishes and opinions while at the same time considering what science and public health measures deem necessary to keep students, educators, and communities safe. As we all well know by now, COVID-19 is a dynami c, ever-evolving challenge. WEA is in continuous communication with the Governor's Office and other relevant state officials, advocating for students and educators. We thank you for your continued service to Wyoming students, even as we face our third school year blotted by COVID-19. Thank you, WEA Government Relations is hard at work advocating for members and working with lawmakers and state officials on CRT, Early Literacy Assessment, and COVID-19 safety. Sign up for daily Legislative Updates from the Wyoming Education Association during the 2022 Budget Session. Visit wealegislativeinfo.com to sign up, now! NEVER MISS AN UPDATE Tate Mullen WEA Government Relations Director tmullen@wyoea.org (307)286-3096 6

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