President Kathy Vetter, Executive Director Ron Sniffin, Government Relations Director Ken Decaria, and Communications Director Coleen Haines met with the editorial board of the Casper Star-Tribune in August to educate them about the Wyoming Education Association, as well as the WEA-Political Action Committee for Education. Our meeting was intended to put a face on the WEA, as well as to clarify Editor Darrell Ehrlick’s column “Misplaced Priorities,” published Aug. 19.
The meeting went extremely well. We were able to clarify for Ehrlick, and the editorial board, the process by which WEA-PACE endorses candidates.
Ehrlick clearly did not understand the process based on his editorial.
We explained that the WEA-PACE sends every candidate who files for the Wyoming Legislature or U.S. Congress a questionnaire and that, contrary to Ehrlick’s assumption, the process could not be more local. This candidate interview team, consisting of classroom teachers, support staff, etc., use the questionnaire as a starting point for a conversation that addresses every facet of education ranging from accountability to class size. Our intent is not only to find out what their views are on educational issues, but to help them understand what is happening in their local schools and in schools around Wyoming.
WEA supports candidates and legislators who are willing to listen to education employees who have direct contact with Wyoming students. We want legislators to base their decisions on what is actually happening in Wyoming schools, not on what they are hearing from out-of-state anti-public education entities. Fortunately, WEA has a good working relationship with legislators. They know they can contact me, any member of the WEA Board of Directors, our members, or our staff about any educational issue.
We have also extended an invitation to the Casper Star-Tribune Editorial Board to establish this open dialogue. We believe Ehrlick’s sincerity that he will take an opportunity to reach out to me, our members, or our staff.
In his column, Ehrlick asked, “Why does the WEA assume that candidates can’t speak directly to the members, or does it assume its members can’t think for themselves?”
The WEA has the utmost respect for its members and the children they educate. The WEA invites and encourages our members to talk to legislators, and members of Wyoming communities, because the WEA members are a part of Wyoming communities, too. We encourage policy makers, parents, and any Wyoming citizen to talk to Wyoming education employees and educate themselves about issues facing Wyoming’s education system. Wyoming community members getting involved in their local schools will give them a chance to see the great things happening in Wyoming schools every day.