Superintendent Degenfelder Statement on Western Conservative Summit

“I want to thank the Western Conservative Summit for inviting me to speak.  I was pleased to share my thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing public education, including empowering parents and keeping political agendas out of the classroom. It’s no wonder the Democrats have spent the last week attacking and trying to silence me, but I remain as committed as ever to fighting for our Wyoming students and families.”

Excerpts from Superintendent Degenfelder’s Address to the Western Conservative’s Summit:

“I ran for this job in 2022 because I am a passionate believer in the power of education to lift people from even the most dire of circumstances. As a product of public school education, I benefited personally from committed teachers and coaches who were among the guiding lights in my life.”

“It is not a new phenomenon that academic achievement has been de-emphasized. Teacher unions have resisted accountability and fought competition. Social promotion has advanced kids through the system even though they could not demonstrate even basic proficiency in grade-level subject matter.

But it’s getting worse. Increasingly, academic achievement in the name of preparing kids for a prosperous and productive adulthood is being replaced in the name of equity. Some schools in California, for instance, eliminated the A through F grading scale and stopped penalizing bad behavior, work habits and missed deadlines. Does this sound like a good way to prepare kids for the real world? I can tell you as someone who comes from the private sector – the fossil fuel industry – that workers with those attitudes toward performance do not last long or go far, and soon become dependent on the rest of us. This does not strengthen our nation. It weakens it.”

“Our Founders never claimed to have created a perfect union. They explicitly proclaimed a government and a Constitution that would give us “a MORE perfect union.” And our journey of becoming a more perfect union is the story that our schools should be telling.

Instead, we get the 1619 Project curriculum, which aside from getting key facts about our history wrong, sets out to establish a sense of guilt and helplessness in our kids, dividing them by race such that some kids are taught that they are oppressors whose successes will be a product of their privilege, not their merit; and yet other children are instructed that they are perpetual victims stuck in a system and a society that is still rigged against them and always will be.

Just the other day, the 1619 Project issued their latest high school lesson plan which turns a math class into a social justice exercise in “reparations math” that uses up 15 class periods. And you wonder how we ended up with role models who refuse to stand during the national anthem.”

“To be sure, a public education system that produces a responsible, thoughtful citizenry should expose young people – who will soon be eligible to vote – to politics, current events, and complicated topics. And it should foster respectful debate in a setting where everyone understands that that is the objective.

But it should not cloak political agendas in lesson plans. It should not presume the righteousness of one side. It should not neglect important context in order to obscure the whole story or legitimize fringe ideas from either side of the political spectrum. And it most certainly should not set out to undermine the values being passed on by parents in the home. We must never forget that parents are always entitled to play the central role in their child’s education.”

“As I previously described, we have curricula that fosters resentment between races. Graphic sexual descriptions are found in books available in elementary school libraries. Transgender athletes are redefining women’s sports and challenging our fundamental understanding of safe and fair play.

And if you object to any of this then you will be met with slurs and protests. You will be intimidated and even silenced.

But I will not be silenced.”

“If voters are looking for champions for our public school system, then make no mistake – the champions are those who want to challenge the educational establishment and restore the fundamental mission of our public schools.”