Meet Your Candidates: Wyoming’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Five Republicans and One Democrat are vying for State Superintendent of Public Instruction
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - We reached out to all candidates filing for Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Below are the candidates running who responded to our request. The information below is written by the candidates and unedited by Wyoming News Now.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY CANDIDATES
NAME: Megan Degenfelder
OCCUPATION: Oil & gas government & regulatory affairs manager, a previous executive at WY Department of Education
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: N/A
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CHEYENNE OR WYOMING? I am a 6th generation Wyomingite and lifelong resident. While I grew up in Casper, I lived in Cheyenne for several years, and my husband grew up in Cheyenne. We now reside in Laramie.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? As a product of Wyoming’s public school system and the University of Wyoming, I was able to build a successful life and career here in my home state. I am running for State Superintendent to ensure that our future generations have just as many, if not more, opportunities to have a successful future in Wyoming.
WHAT IS CHEYENNE’S/WYOMING’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: As it relates to education, I believe the biggest challenge is ensuring our education system is nimble enough to best prepare students for a successful future with high-paying jobs right here in Wyoming. In order to do so, we must address the teacher shortage, improve literacy rates before third grade, partner with local industries to prepare students for the current workplace, provide as many options and career pathways to students and parents as possible, and keep government out of the classroom, from radical political agendas to burdensome reporting and requirements, so we can focus on what is most important- educating our kids.
ZOOM INTERVIEW: Degenfelder
NAME: Thomas Kelly
OCCUPATION: University Chair of Political Science
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Appointed boards and commissions.
*HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CHEYENNE OR WYOMING? Three years
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? Recruited by Wyoming State GOP members
WHAT IS CHEYENNE’S/WYOMING’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Breaking the addiction to federal money, which is undermining state sovereignty
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Ph.D. in American Government, MA in Education, professor, former public school teacher, and several children in Wyoming schools.
ZOOM INTERVIEW: Kelly
NAME: Brian Schroeder
OCCUPATION: Superintendent of Public Instruction
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Served as Superintendent since January 2022
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CHEYENNE OR WYOMING? Since 2019
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? I am running because I want to help Wyoming education to return its focus to the true purpose of education: to learn to think. I want to restore the philosophical integrity of the classroom, put parents first, and remove indoctrination from (or prevent it from taking root in) our classrooms.
WHAT IS CHEYENNE’S/WYOMING’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Wyoming’s biggest challenge in education is its dependence on federal dollars. In recent weeks, the federal government has shown its hand, and it is apparent that the strings tied to federal dollars are not worth the money. Wyoming does not have a funding problem, we have a spending problem. We must drastically reduce our dependence on federal dollars.
ZOOM INTERVIEW: Schroeder
NAME: Jennifer Zerba
OCCUPATION: Educator and University of Wyoming Doctoral Student
PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CHEYENNE OR WYOMING? I was born in Casper, WY.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? What is the point of education? What are we doing if we aren’t preparing students for life? It is time we have someone as the superintendent of public instruction who knows what it is like to be in the trenches. I currently work for Natrona County School District as a board-certified substitute teacher and Wyoming Professional Instructor that can teach business, business administration, business management, and human service while I complete my education doctorate in Learning, Design, and Technology. I understand first-hand the effects of millions of dollars in budget cuts over the last several years. I had watched the TV show Undercover Boss and just like in the show, decisions are being made by people who have no idea how it affects the people they are making the decisions for. I have experienced just that. People in Cheyenne are making policies, initiatives, and procedures without knowing how these affect educators and students. Educators are burnt out and quitting the profession or leaving the state to educate students in those states. I am committed to financial responsibility, supporting educators, upholding the Wyoming Constitution, and a skilled workforce.
WHAT IS CHEYENNE’S/WYOMING’S’ BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Wyoming’s biggest challenge in education is intertwined: standing up for our educators and upholding the Wyoming Constitution while ensuring our students graduate with skills that enable them to make good choices with the vast opportunities presented to them. Retention and getting more educators should be on the top of the list. 65% of educators would quit if they could. In Natrona County, we had over 130 job openings for 2022- 2023.
ZOOM INTERVIEW: Zerba
NAME: Robert White: Did not respond by deadline.
DEMOCRAT PRIMARY CANDIDATE
NAME: Sergio Maldonado Sr.
OCCUPATION: 23 years as a professional public educator
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Sergio has served two terms on his local school board; He was a candidate for SD 25 in 2018.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN WYOMING? Sergio was born and spent most of his youth on the Wind River Reservation, leaving to pursue his education. He returned home to Wind River 16 years ago.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? It has been disappointing to see successive Superintendents politicizing the education of our children. Our students deserve so much more. Under my leadership, education will not be politicized to the detriment of our students. Every student will receive a quality education in collaboration with Wyoming teachers, the administration, and community input.
WHAT IS CHEYENNE/WYOMING’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Every child, no matter what their zip code, deserves a high-quality education distributed with love regardless of age, gender, race, class, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. That’s what education is about and that is what I will deliver.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: As Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sergio will focus on these issues:
- Equitably fund our schools
- School safety first
- Support our teachers
- Local control, local input
- Every student succeeds
- Public funds for public schools only
- Early childhood education for all children
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