- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) - Candidates vying to be Wyoming’s next superintendent of public instruction sparred over education standards and school funding during a debate in Riverton on Thursday night.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported (https://goo.gl/GCSAVU ) Republican Jillian Balow and Democrat Mike Ceballos disagreed on the role of Common Core standards in Wyoming.

Ceballos said he has supported the standards from the beginning, accusing Balow of not providing consistent leadership on the topic.

“My opponent has waffled,” he said. “Leaders must be consistent in their messaging.”

Balow argued she hasn’t waffled on the standards but disagrees with how they were adopted.

Common Core, which prescribes new methods of teaching math, reading and writing, was sponsored by state governors five years ago and has been adopted in nearly all 50 states.

Balow also stressed the need for a practical approach to the recalibration of school funding in Wyoming.

“We need to address cost-of-living increases, and the recalibration process gives us an opportunity to work forward with a debate in front of the Legislature,” she said. “I don’t believe it needs to go to court.”

Ceballos agreed, saying the key was to avoid litigation and allow communities to work together.

Both candidates said they have already begun the work needed to reform the office in the shadow of former Superintendent Cindy Hill’s administration.

Hill’s tenure was marked by a testy political fight with the Republican-dominated Legislature and GOP Gov. Matt Mead over her administration of the state Department of Education. Hill challenged Mead for governor, but she finished a distant third behind him in the primaries.

Ceballos said Thursday he is working to boost consistency in Wyoming education systems.

“The first 100 days have already started,” he said. “I’ve met with 41 of the 48 school districts. We’re past the first 100 days. We’re working on plans to move forward together and provide our educators with consistency.”

Balow highlighted her experience as a teacher in the state in an effort to distance herself from her business-oriented opponent.

“This is no time for on-the-job training,” she said. “We need to expand the capacity of the department and rebuild relationships.”

The debate was the last between Balow and Ceballos before the Nov. 4 election.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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