Our state's expenditure per pupil is the 4th highest in the nation, yet more than 25% of our students need remedial classes in college. We are not getting the value we want for the money we are paying.
We don't need to spend more money on fancy facilities. We do need to make sure that our teachers know what they should be teaching. Our current standards are vague. For example, the Wyoming government standards say "Students are able to thoroughly discuss the contributions of important historical figures and events." Do we care who and what? Other states specify the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. More specific standards would not only provide the students with a better education, but also would enable us to save some of the money we're spending on reviewing, re-teaching, and hiring administrative staff.
Teaching is unlike most other professions--if you do a bad job it may not be obvious for several years. We have to give new teachers, especially, the mentoring and evaluation they need to succeed in the classroom. Feedback should come throughout the year, not just after the student test scores come out. We will insist on quality teachers, but the teachers and administrators need to know they have our support when they discipline disruptive students. Finally, not all students fit into the same box. Our children need to have opportunities to take both advanced math and auto shop if that's where their strengths and interests lie.
Wyoming needs more training programs for healthcare and technology professions. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services says our state colleges are only graduating two-thirds of the number of nurses we need in the state. A more highly-trained workforce will provide better services to the people of Wyoming, and enable businesses to grow and be more productive. In addition, our children would be able to enroll in the training programs they want here in Wyoming, and then will be more likely to stay here after graduation.
Ultimately, parents are responsible for their children's education, even if they choose to delegate that responsibility to public or private schools. Sue supports homeschooling and charter schools as other educational choices.