It may just be that Wyoming is — for the time being — over Cindy Hill.
Nearly a month ago, a Cheyenne judge ruled that the superintendent of public instruction would not get an injunction so she could be restored to her former role as leader of the Wyoming Department of Education. In the meantime, the Wyoming Supreme Court has accepted the case.
The District Court’s ruling said that while Hill was earnest and truthful in her belief that Wyoming students were harmed by her lack of leadership, she offered no substantial proof that her newly reformulated job duties did any harm to the average student.
And really, the court case summarized beautifully the problem with Hill’s tenure: Her vision and leadership failed to resonate within the department or improve the educational lot of Wyoming students.
We’ve said plenty about Hill’s difficult tenure as the leader of the department. We’ve talked about the Legislature’s constitutional right to define her job duties, even if it is in a greatly diminished role. In one very real aspect, Hill was a victim of the inevitable, which was only hastened by her own ineffectual leadership. She was not the first problematic leader to hold the position of superintendent. Her own strained time at the helm forced leaders to deal with the problem: Education is about actions and expertise outside the political realm.
After being reassigned duties, Hill took the offensive and vowed to run for governor.
And that’s exactly when Hill should have lost any credibility in her efforts to convince the public (or the courts) that her mission was about trying to improve education in Wyoming.
No matter what happens in the pending court case, no matter how Hill redefines the job, it’s clear she has other political ambitions. She is a lame duck as a superintendent.
It’s not just about her, though. Any politician who would seek a different office becomes, at best, distracted. She can’t be both an advocate for students and a candidate for governor.
Hill has been touring around the state, sharing her story, which includes her ouster as the leader of the Wyoming Department of Education. She is tentatively scheduled to come to Casper on April 26. The talks, from accounts throughout the state, seem much more about the politics and have little to do with true education issues. In fact, in the words of the Cheyenne judge’s decision, her actions seem to have little correlation with what’s happening in the classroom.
We can’t help but also wonder if these political speeches aren’t just a barely subtle attempt at running for office.
Again, if Hill wants to run for governor — and is truly serious — then she should step aside and run full time for the governor’s seat. Instead, she seems to want to use her office as superintendent as a taxpayer-funded martyrdom and platform for her to travel throughout the state at Wyoming’s expense.
If she continues in her role, Hill needs to ensure that she is truly working for education, not fulfilling her aspirations of becoming the next governor of the state.
In many ways, Hill herself has illustrated the problem: Education has become too much about politics and grandstanding. Meanwhile our test scores lag and our results, including graduation rates, are mediocre.
If it were truly about the students, Hill would be fighting for them instead of the governor’s chair.