Saying parents have a right to know what their children are learning, Wyoming's education superintendent unveiled a curriculum transparency website Tuesday where public school districts can post what they teach.
Wyoming’s top educator unveiled a curriculum transparency webpage Tuesday geared toward keeping parents across the state aware of what their children are learning in public school.
The transparency effort is supposed to help weed political bias out of Wyoming’s schools and help parents engage with teachers, Degenfelder told Cowboy State Daily in an interview ahead of her Tuesday evening press conference in Cody.
“For me, it’s always been very important that we recognize that parents have the right to direct their children’s education,” Degenfelder said. “To know what their child is learning, to know it’s free of political bias.”
The curriculum transparency website contains links to school districts’ pages featuring their standards for different grades and subjects and primary education materials (like textbooks) used to achieve those standards.
Participating in the page is optional, and districts can publish different degrees of detail on curriculum pages as they are able, Degenfelder said. For example, some schools may simply publish their main textbooks along with their standards. Others may add secondary education sources, classroom conversation topics and so on, if they don't find it cumbersome.
She said she hopes a growing culture and expectation of transparency, coupled with the benefits of having parents aware and engaged, will motivate all 48 Wyoming public school districts to upload their materials to the curriculum page or use “some form of it.”
No National Vendor
Degenfelder had pronounced transparency as a goal in the Wyoming Department of Education strategic plan she published in May 2023. But at that time, she sought to contract with a national vendor to centralize the school districts’ curricula and material onto one website.
There’s no need for a national vendor, Degenfelder told Cowboy State Daily, adding that her pilot group of eight school districts (seven of which were ready to go live with their links Tuesday) decided after “several hours of talking … we can do this the Wyoming way.”
Degenfelder said uploading curriculum pages and linking to them from the Wyoming Department of Education’s own website will not cost taxpayers extra money, as a national vendor contract would have.
To compile and upload the pages does take willingness on the part of the districts, however, she added.
“A ‘carrot’ to me, I guess, is the fact that these districts have stepped up to show that it’s not only possible, but it’s really valuable,” she said. “That’s why we wanted to bring districts along.”
As parents and communities encounter transparency, they’ll come to expect it. And that’s a good thing, said Degenfelder.
“Ideally, that’s the way government should work: closest to the people,” she said. “Education should reflect the community it serves, and having more people feel empowered; more people really caring and taking the time to make sure their education system is what they desire — we build a bridge between our school districts, our teachers, our parents and our community.”
The Kickoff Group
The eight districts in Degenfelder’s pilot group are:
Park County School District No. 6
Park County School District No. 1
Big Horn County School District No. 2
Natrona County School District No. 1
Sheridan County School District No. 2
Sweetwater County School District No. 2
Lincoln County School District No. 1
Weston County School District No. 7 (which was not ready to go live Tuesday)
Next, Wyoming Department of Education is rebuilding its website to make it more parent-interactive, Degenfelder said.
“We’re really excited some really great things to come with our website,” she said. “This is only the beginning.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.