Gov. Mark Gordon listens to protesters of a state park project at Lander’s Hunt Field Airport on Aug. 12, 2021. (Katie Klingsporn/WyoFile)

Gov. Mark Gordon’s Reimagining and Innovating the Delivery of Education advisory group seeks input from Wyoming residents as it drafts a report that could shape education in the state. 

The survey is open until mid-February, and participants can access it here.

Gordon announced the creation of the RIDE group in May 2021. Its mission is to determine what state residents — from former students to parents and business owners — want from K-12 education. 

The Wyoming State Board of Education embarked on a similar project in 2020. The board has been gathering “the wisdom and perspectives of all of the education stakeholders in determining what an ideal K-12 system should produce in terms of a Wyoming graduate,” according to a past statement from SBE Chairman Ryan Fuhrman, and released a 2021 report titled “Profile of a Graduate.” That report was shared with RIDE.

The survey seeks input “on how to create the ideal education system for the future of the state,” according to the release issued by the governor’s office.

“We’re really hoping to gather perspectives that don’t come before the legislature all the time,” said John Masters, chair of RIDE. “Most of the legislators hear from their own constituents, but when they get down to Cheyenne, they hear mostly from lobbyists.”

The group doesn’t want people to use its survey as an opportunity to attack individuals or curriculum, Masters added. Those topics are “certainly worthy of discussion, but they’re not going to be part of our work,” Masters said. “We’re trying to take a very high-altitude look at it, we can’t really get too far down into the details.” Matters like curriculum are the purview of the Wyoming State Board of Education.

For example, they can discuss topics like individualized learning plans or the training process for teachers. 

In the first few days of the survey’s release, more than 1,500 responses poured in, according to Masters. He’d like to see 10,000 in total. 

The advisory group plans to hold a handful of meetings across the state this summer to further solicit feedback. The findings from the meetings, in conjunction with the survey results, will culminate in a report with recommendations that the Legislature could consider in 2023. 

Aside from Masters, who served as deputy superintendent of public instruction, other board members include:

  • Evan Simpson, representative for Lincoln County and retired consulting engineer
  • R.J. Kost, senator for Big Horn and Park Counties and retired math teacher
  • Craig Dougherty, former superintendent of Sheridan County School District No. 2
  • David Northrup, former chairman of the House Education Committee and Park County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees. Currently a member of Willwood Light and Power board 
  • Fred von Ahrens, vice president of manufacturing for Genesis Alkali
  • Brian Worthen, CEO of Visionary Broadband
  • Nicole Novotny Wonka, executive assistant and office manager to Richard Wonka, of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC in Buffalo
  • Thea True Wells, former middle and high school science teacher, who was involved with Dual Language Immersion in Natrona County School District #1 and expansion of pre-K services

This story has been updated to clarify John Masters’ title. -Ed.

Sofia Jeremias reports on healthcare, education and the economy in Wyoming. She received her master's degree from the Columbia Journalism School and previously reported on the West for Deseret News.

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