Gov. Matt Mead shared some thoughts about education during a news conference this morning. My colleague in Cheyenne, http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/capitol/" target= "_blank">Jeremy Pelzer, was kind enough to ask a few questions on my behalf and send along these notes.
There's been talk among educators and lawmakers about http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/article_b06ee50d-2c03-5ef6-9d89-4d29d76831cb.html" target="_blank">refusing federal education funding. Mead said education is important enough to spend more per student than any other state.
"I understand the sentiment of those who feel that we should do that. But what I’m interested in is how do we provide the best education for Wyoming citizens and for our kids? And that takes a lot of money."
He cautioned against turning away money just to send a political message.
"And so before we say, 'We're not going to take any of this money,' I think we need to recognize what is that going to do to our state. And I haven’t seen those numbers, but I do think we’ve got to be very careful on that, because I am not willing to sacrifice education of Wyoming citizens to make a point that we often -- for some of us, and on occasion for others -- dissatisfied with what federal government policies are."
Mead also offered thoughts on the myriad education bills working their way through the Capitol sausage factory.
He said nothing in education is a "sacred cow" -- teacher contracts, PAWS, funding, charter schools. He said teachers should be fired if they are not doing their job of educating kids but warned against removing protections for teachers.
"And if you take everything away, human nature being what it's going to be, unless you assume the infallibility of principals, we could have teachers fired because they’re not a fishing buddy. And that doesn't help the education of our kids, and it doesn’t help the sustainability of our teachers."
Mead said the PAWS test is flawed because students lack motivation to perform and it only measures status, not progress, which makes it a weak indicator of teacher success. He went on to say assessment needs to be linked with teacher evaluations and decisions for termination.
"But what I am interested in is if we're going to do those eliminations, or we're going to look at teacher contracts, I want to see how it is going to advance education in an identifiable and objective way, and to just say 'for any reason' I am not comfortable with that. We have to tie test scores to that."