Sheridan County schools had a little something to brag about recently.
Sheridan’s was named among the top high schools in the country, receiving a silver medal in the U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of our country’s best secondary education institutions.
That put SHS at No. 1,368 out of the more than 21,000 public schools evaluated.
Big Horn was named a bronze medal winner, too.
We often brag about the quality of our schools (we have a lot of new ones) and the caliber of our teachers here in Sheridan County.
But statewide, not a single Wyoming school cracked the top 100 high schools in the country. We didn’t even make the top 1,000. Yet, Wyoming routinely funds its schools at a rate higher than most other states in the country.
What are we doing wrong?
The answer may be nothing. Rankings like U.S. News and World Report are often subjective (see their methodology at www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools) and could change if different criteria were prioritized. For example, some Wyoming schools such as Big Horn High School will never rank above the bronze medal level because they do not offer Advanced Placement classes. Yet, Big Horn students can take actual college courses at Sheridan College. That fact is not evaluated as part of the rankings.
But the schools themselves brag about the recognition they receive, showing the weight we put on such evaluations — subjective or not.
Sure, Sheridan County schools got a nice pat on the back by U.S. News and World Report. There were thousands of schools that did not even get a mention. But we’re far from perfect.
As budgets become tighter and the Wyoming Legislature and voters continue battling over the best way to run our state education system, let’s remember what is important — getting our kids the best education we can give in order to prepare them for whatever career path they choose.
Local control, while ideal in theory, may not be working. It creates an unequal level of academic achievement, making geography a far too important component of a person’s education experience.
We should enjoy our successes, but let’s not become complacent.