Winney emphasizes leadership, education experience in eduction race
Bill Winney of Bondurant says his 30 years of experience in the Navy, both as a commander on a nuclear submarine and an instructor, provided him with the necessary experience to serve the state of Wyoming as Superintendent of Public Instruction.
“I was responsible for real world education and training of people throughout my career,” Winney comments. “More and more good administration doesn’t get us where we want to go. It is time to change that equation, and I think I can bring that change.”
While not an educator in a K-12 classroom, Winney says, “Training and education was part of everything I did in the Navy. I taught for a little over two years.”
He went on to a position as chief engineer, then commanding officer responsible for officer trainees.
“In the civilian world, I became a flight instructor,” he adds. “I have about 500 hours teaching in the cockpit, as well as a good bit of on-the-ground instruction.”
Winney has also dealt with the federal government and their programs, giving him familiarity with the system.
“The Superintendent of Public Instruction needs to understand what is going on in a classroom and what a teacher has to cope with,” Winney emphasizes, adding he has seen those struggles throughout his wife’s teaching career. “Wherever we landed during my 30 years of active duty, my wife Louise taught. Through her eyes, I saw many different school administrations and how they worked with teachers.”
Winney says this experience has reinforced his intuitive understanding of what teachers deal with in the classroom.
“Teachers are our front-line soldiers,” Winney explains. “Everyone else in the education world is support staff, and it is very important we keep our focus on what a teacher has to cope with and what they need.”
At the same time, Winney says he has experience running a large organization – including the command of a 1,200-member crew.
“If we aren’t careful, big organizations have a way of taking control, instead of the boss controlling the bureaucracy,” he explains. “I have an understanding of that, and I learned about that in many tours and in Washington, D.C.”
He further comments that a leadership gap has occurred in the Department of Education, which he has the experience and skills to fill.
“In several guest opinion columns that I have written for the Casper Star Tribune, I spoke about our legislature acting like a super school board. They’ve stepped into a gap in leadership that has probably existed for a number of years,” Winney says. “They have gone to a level of detail I think is inappropriate for the legislature.”
Winney further notes that while the legislature should work with the State Board of Education and local administrators, they should also not delve into details of the education system.
“There needs to be confidence on the part of the legislature that the Board of Education and Department of Education are doing what they should,” he says. “I will work to establish that confidence.”
A working relationship with legislators will enable him to accomplish that goal.
“The legislators have seen me and heard me talk in front of their committees,” Winney says. “They have a decent idea of how I think, and I hope to be able to move that into a confidence that I’m doing things the way they want.”
In the classroom
Winney emphasizes that in the classroom, testing is too extensive and Common Core Curriculum has gone too far.
“The testing our young people face and teachers cope with I view as far too extensive,” he explains. “It is appropriate to run testing programs so we can determine where students if they are learning, but I think our testing has reached a point where it significantly takes away from the time a teacher spends with young people.”
At the same time, Winney comments, “There is also a lot of objection in the state to Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards.”
While a good idea, he explains that bureaucracy turned Common Core into a program that loses focus.
“I would work to make sure Wyoming maintains control of curriculum and doesn’t give up that authority,” he says.
In addition to the role in education, Winney says that the role on boards and commissions is also important.
“I will take a look at the issues that become current on the boards and do my homework,” he says. “I’ve run big budgets, and I can help to take a look at what boards are doing.”
Winney says he will take the role of Superintendent of Public Instruction very seriously, if elected.
“I support Wyoming’s long-term goals and education future Wyoming generations,” Winney says.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.