CHEYENNE — The state Board of Education continues to support Wyoming’s content standards in English, language arts and math.
The standards, which double as the Common Core State Standards, have been adopted by about 45 states.
“The state Board of Education’s position of being in favor of the Common Core has been reaffirmed,” board chairman Ron Micheli said. “And it will stay that way until there is a change in the position of the board.”
Members of the board heard a presentation from Amy Edmonds of the Wyoming Liberty Group. The former state representative from Cheyenne spoke against the standards at a Tuesday board meeting.
“We cannot afford to continue down this path of adopting every new ‘it’ idea proposed as the silver bullet in education improvement,” Edmonds said. “Wyoming’s citizens, our communities and our mineral wealth all afford us with incredible opportunities to create a system that is world class.
“We simply need the courage and the vision to do it ourselves.”
Edmonds asked the board to consider stopping the rollout or ending the use of the Common Core and returning to a system that better allows for local control.
The state should put a group of Wyoming experts and parents together to create a new set of standards, she said.
“Let’s believe in Wyoming’s ability to create excellence in education locally and stop this experiment in standards for education,” she said.
She also criticized the state board for how it adopted the standards. She said the public didn’t know what was happening at the time.
“Take a look at revising how you publicize your standards review process to include more avenues for direct parent contact,” she said.
Members of the board asked no questions of Edmonds.
Several opponents of the Common Core also attended. But the session wasn’t opened to the public.
“We’re not going to open up the audience for participation or we’d be here for the next six weeks,” Micheli said. “We do appreciate you coming.”
A public comment period was set for the end of the meeting.
Several presenters who had positive things to say about the standards also had the chance to speak.
“When I first read [the standards] I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to have to learn some more math. I don’t know that I know all this stuff,’” math teacher Jayne Wingate said.
The new standards, especially areas like math practice, can stretch teachers and students, Wingate said.
The standards have had teachers looking at the bigger picture of what they want students to take away from math, she added. They also have looked at the problem-solving skills and creativity involved.
“It makes me so sad that it’s become a political issue,” Wingate said.
Working with the standards has given her a chance to work with colleagues in the district and in other states, she added.
She was part of the group that originally reviewed the state’s content standards. At that point the state was not looking to adopt the Common Core, she said.
“As we looked at the Wyoming standards and as we looked at the Common Core, we really believed we couldn’t do better [than the core],” she said. “They were an incredible set of standards.”
Fellow educator Michael Hays also spoke in favor of the standards as they apply to English and language arts.
“The Common Core really asks kids to get deep into their literacy skills; it really asks for quite a bit,” he said.
Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jim McBride gave a brief history of the beginning of the standards’ creation.
The board also saw a movie of teachers from around the state talking about use of the standards in the classroom.
Members of the board debated briefly if the Common Core had been a proper use of state funds but took no action.
“I’m very comfortable with how these standards were developed and how they were adopted by the board,” board member Pete Gosar said.
“We’ve heard from the school boards association in Wyoming, the superintendents association … the curriculum developers … teachers and the [Wyoming Education Association]. By and large they are in support of the Common Core State Standards.”