Tuesday, May 8, 2012

If Only Green Valley High's Problems Were the Norm...

Green Valley High School, here in Henderson, has so much to be proud of. However, Green Valley High is experiencing a bit of an embarrassment... Even while it's being honored! Apparently, US News & World Report used the wrong data on both the school and the entire state of Nevada's public education infrastructure in deciding rankings. Whoops.

Still, Green Valley High has plenty to be proud of. It has one of the top graduation and college bound rates in the state. And other publications still rank it as one of the best schools in the country.

Ah, if only the rest of Clark County School District were that fortunate. Instead, CCSD overall is ranked as one of the WORST K-12 school districts in the nation. And local families are increasingly mad as hell & don't want to take take it any more.

Fifteen of 47 licensed educators at Vegas Verdes [Elementary School] have announced they plan to leave the school after this school year, and an untold number of teachers may be laid off if the School District follows through on its threat of layoffs.

“That’s terrible for my children’s future. It makes me fear my kids won’t be educated the right way,” said Teresa Sandoval-Salazar, a parent of three children at Vegas Verdes and the self-proclaimed organizer of the protest. “I don’t know why (the School District) is playing with the future of our children. I don’t think that’s right.” [...]

Former School Board member Jose Solorio —who was at the protest representing the Latino political group Si Se Puede — said the budget cuts so far have disproportionately hurt Hispanic students, who make up the majority of students in the district. English Language Learner facilitators were cut last year, which hurts schools like Vegas Verdes that serve a majority minority population, he said.

Solorio added that the School District should take a closer look at its budget instead of blaming teachers, who he said were attracted to the profession because of the annual step increases. Solorio is worried about teacher retention at a time when the School District is facing many academic challenges, he said.

“Teachers shouldn’t be lambasted because they got to keep their salaries,” he said. “The real issue is the lack of education funding from the state. Teachers shouldn’t bear the brunt of the blame.”

This is something that we discussed last Friday. CCSD administration have been setting up teachers to be the "fall guys" for some time. They've hoped that we just blame teachers for CCSD's failure to properly serve the community, and for state politicians' failure to properly fund public education. It's encouraging to see that a growing number of parents are finally noticing the holes in CCSD's story.

However, there's another problem here that isn't talked about often enough. Notice where Vegas Verdes is located. And notice where Green Valley is located. While recent budget cuts have hurt schools throughout Nevada, inner city Las Vegas public schools have been hurt the most.

Again, all public schools here have suffered. But at schools in more affluent suburbs, parents can at least afford to donate to keep extracurricular activities strong... And CCSD has incentives to keep as much intact as possible. (Hint: Reread the top paragraph.)

But in the poorer neighborhoods, the schools are in dire straits. And the things that students there need, like English Language Learner programs, are often considered more "politically palatable" budget cuts. It just goes to show that the real problems with Nevada schools, especially here in Clark County, are not what we often see in the media... And they're certainly not what the typical "tea party" aligned politicians claim they are.

If only the rest of CCSD's schools had Green Valley High's problems...

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