A Survey of State Initiatives
In Wyoming, where teacher salaries are high compared with those in neighboring states, and where there are only a total of about 300 mathematics teachers and 300 science teachers, there is no shortage in these areas.
Nonetheless, in March, the legislature passed the "Wyoming Secondary Education Improvement Act," which sets aside funds to make scholarships available so that mathematics, science, and foreign-language teachers who wish to upgrade their skills can do so at the University of Wyoming during the summer, according to Audrey M. Cotherman, deputy superintendent for the state department of education. The grants are to be matched by funds from local districts.
The support is more "symbolic" than it is "substantive," according to Ms. Cotherman. The $2,500 the state set aside will help 10 teachers this year.
Task forces on program equity and curriculum and staff development, established in February, are scheduled to report before the next legislative session in October or November. Their recommendations--though not limited to any specific subject areas--could help improve the quality of math and science education in the state, officials said.
The equity task force is studying plans to provide more balanced funding throughout the state that may help poor rural districts solve staffing problems. Rural school districts sometimes offer as few as 40 courses per high school--and a limited number in math and science--while larger, wealthier districts can offer as many as 150 courses, Ms. Cotherman said.
The task force on curriculum and staff development will formulate comprehensive proposals for the development and evaluation of all curricula for kindergarten through grade 12.
Following on the heels of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, Wyoming has also established a blue-ribbon panel of its own to assess the quality and goals of its schools. The 29-member panel will report to the state board of education by October of 1984, with recommendations to be presented to the legislature sometime in the summer of 1985.
The state provides local districts with information on computer software and contracts with the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium to purchase software. Hardware is purchased on a district-by-district basis.
The state department of education last year bought $4,000-worth of year-long memberships for all state school districts to the Math-Science Teaching Center at the University of Wyoming. The center "reproduces educational software" in all subject areas.