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Applauding SF 104

Posted: Thursday, Jan 31st, 2013

Ask anyone if a 66 percent failure rate is acceptable and you will receive a resounding, “No.” According to USA Today in 2012, the airline ranked worst for on-time flight performance still had 71 percent of their flights depart and arrive on time.

I had the honor and privilege of serving on the Wyoming State Board of Education for 10 years, from 2002-12, and did so under the leadership of three state superintendents. Under one superintendent, the Wyoming Department of Education and Wyoming’s education system was on the precipice of making great strides toward becoming No. 1 in the nation. Under the other two superintendents, progress was thwarted, best practice was ignored in favor of personal agendas, statutes and mandates were sidestepped and a favored modus operandi to explain unilateral decisions was that funds, positions and work were “repurposed.”

That’s a 66 percent failure rate in the leadership of the Wyoming Department of Education. It’s time to take politics out of the education system in Wyoming.

I watched and read in anticipation as the debates and testimony on SF 104 unfolded. Could the Wyoming education system have endured another two years with Superintendent Cindy Hill as one half of the cause for the 66 percent failure rate over the past 10 years? Yep. Are Wyomingites a group of fools for believing this is actually about the Constitution rather than a fringe agenda by select (not majority) supporters? I think that argument could be made, yep.

Hill served as a catalyst for lawmakers to fix a broken, antiquated structure prone to defiant power grabs and “political machines” as Speaker of the House Thomas Lubnau accurately termed the Hill administration and others before it.

Recently, Hill spoke to Glen Woods of the Bold Republic radio program. In reference to the legislators she calls “good ole boys,” she said (more than once), “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” I think the same metaphor could be applied to the past 10 years in the Wyoming Department of Education. If it’s proven broken, it is.

The people of Wyoming cannot let this continue to happen as it affects our entire education system—the underpinning for our state. Well organized groups used rhetoric to pull the issue away from the truth. Over the past few weeks, they had some of us wondering if this was a duck, even though it quacked and waddled for years.

I challenge Wyomingites who think SF 104 infringes on a Constitutional right or negates our 2010 vote. Take time after the session to contact your legislators and ask them why they voted the way they did. I predict you will hear a redundant, static argument from those who voted against and solicit a robust and sincere discussion about integrity, education and leadership from the majority.

Thank you 62nd Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead for the passage of SF 104. History will not repeat itself thanks to you. “Great leadership is a product of great character. And this is why character matters.”

Larry McGarvin, Tensleep

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