Megan Degenfelder is Wyoming’s next superintendent of public instruction.
A sixth-generation Wyomingite and the state’s Republican nominee, Degenfelder beat Democratic opponent Sergio Maldonado in Tuesday’s general election for the seat. In January she will replace governor-appointed Superintendent Brian Schroeder, whom she beat in the Aug. 16 primary election.
Lewd Books, Local Control
In the three months between her primary and general election wins, education became a hot-button issue in Wyoming as school boards throughout the state faced challenges over sexually graphic books in schools.
Degenfelder on Oct. 24 addressed the Natrona County School Board in public opposition of the district’s two contested books – both sexually graphic – that remain in the Kelly Walsh High School library in Casper.
Degenfelder grew up in Casper and her father served on the school board.
She told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that, even given her opposition, it’s important to her for school boards to maintain local control over issues.
But there are things she can do as superintendent to help schools navigate the inflammatory social controversy.
“I see the state department as being a resource for best practices around what policy changes could look like,” said Degenfelder, adding that she hopes to communicate with all school districts to help them modernize and improve their book-challenge and other relevant policies.
She also wants to launch a statewide education transparency website on which parents and community members can peruse school resources, materials and curricula for Wyoming schools.
She said this is a means to highlight the good work schools have been doing while being transparent to confront issues within each community.
Without legislation, the site would be optional for districts. Degenfelder said that she’d be willing to incentivize and communicate with schools to encourage participation.
“My approach would be toward working together to do that, rather than having a legislative approach,” she said.
Degenfelder said her main priorities have not changed. She hopes to do the following:
• Empower parents as “the No. 1 decision-makers.”
• Cut red tape to streamline educators’ efforts.
• Focus on reading, writing and math improvement in education.
• Partner with industry to prepare students for work in Wyoming’s economy.
End Of The Campaign Trail
On Tuesday morning, Degenfelder was relieved to be at the end of the campaign trail, but said she was grateful for all the support she’d received.
“It’s always a good feeling when you go into it knowing you worked as hard as possible and had a great swelling of grassroots support. It’s a good place to be on election night,” she said.
She also said she’s ready to turn talk into effort.
“I’m tired of just talking about these issues – I’m ready to start making action,” she said.
Degenfelder worked as chief policy officer under former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow until 2019, after which she became the government and regulatory affairs manager for oil and gas company Morning Star Partners.