If teacher shortage persists, ‘we’re all going to sink’

The Las Vegas Sun – Michelle Rindels

“Nevada’s two largest school districts this week said they’d hired hundreds of first-time teachers over the summer with the help of recruiters, billboards and even a Clark County superintendent zip-lining through downtown Las Vegas in a superhero cape. But when it was Nevada Board of Education President Elaine Wynn’s chance to speak about the nearly 1,000 teacher positions statewide that still remain vacant and are being filled with stopgap measures such as long-term subs, she didn’t mince words. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this alarmed in my job as I have been today,” Wynn said at a board meeting Thursday, calling the situation a human resource crisis. “We’re going to all sink. This is horrific.” Nevada is suffering an acute teacher shortage as its student population rises and its primary supplier of educators — California — deals with a shortage of its own. Colleges there are producing fewer teaching graduates, and Nevada colleges are far from being able to churn out enough homegrown education graduates to meet the state’s needs.”(more)

Nevada’s Voucher Program: The Next Legal Battle in the War for Parental Choice

The 74 Million – Carolyn Phenicie

“There is widespread public support for Nevada’s landmark statewide Education Savings Accounts, a public opinion poll finds, as the controversial proposal prepares for its journey through the state court system. According to a survey of about 600 residents, 61 percent of Nevadans support the ESA, which was described as a program that “uses state funds to create a personal account to fund education expenses, including tutoring, testing fees and books.” There was majority support among respondents of all political affiliations and among union households. The Nevada survey was conducted just prior to the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filing suit two weeks ago to block the program on the grounds that it violates provisions in the state constitution banning state support of religious activities and requiring a “uniform system of common schools.” The American Federation for Children, which recently sponsored The Seventy Four’s New Hampshire Education Summit, commissioned the poll. It was conducted by The Tarrance Group, a Republican-aligned polling firm.”(more)

Good News for New Orleans

Education Next – Staff Writer

“What happened to the New Orleans public schools following the tragic levee breeches after Hurricane Katrina is truly unprecedented. Within the span of one year, all public-school employees were fired, the teacher contract expired and was not replaced, and most attendance zones were eliminated. The state took control of almost all public schools and began holding them to relatively strict standards of academic achievement. Over time, the state turned all the schools under its authority over to charter management organizations (CMOs) that, in turn, dramatically reshaped the teacher workforce.”(more)

School gardens cultivate young minds

The Las Vegas Sun – Katie Visconti

“Traditional classrooms are filled with desks and whiteboards. Bracken has buried tradition in favor of growing something new: classroom gardens. It is among dozens of Clark County schools that, thanks to local nonprofit Green Our Planet, have a on-campus gardens. Since it began in January 2013, Green Our Planet has helped build gardens in 64 Clark County schools. The goal is to teach local children about environmental issues, health and conservation, and expose them to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) topics. Students learn about plant growth and decomposition, participate in weekly farmers markets selling produce they grow, and receive instruction from local chefs and farmers about food and nutrition. Fifth-graders even are tasked with protecting the gardens after school from younger, strawberry-stealing students.”(more)

Nevada’s groundbreaking school-choice law: Help or hindrance to public system?

The Christian Science Monitor – Stacy Teicher Khadaroo

“A groundbreaking law in Nevada allows virtually all parents of K-12 students to opt out of public school but use their children’s state education dollars for a customized education, including private or religious schooling, online classes, textbooks, and dual-enrollment college credits. The money goes into an education savings account (ESA), and dollars not spent by the parent in a given year roll over for future spending – until the student finishes high school or opts back into public school. With this move – GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the legislation Tuesday – Nevada has made itself, in some ways, the educational-choice capital of the nation. And it has added new layers to the long-standing debates about whether funneling public dollars to private school options is a catalyst for improvements or damaging to public schooling.”(more)

Editorial: What can happen when Clark County schools are properly funded

The Las Vegas Sun – Editorial

“It’s too easy to beat up the Clark County School District because of its poor academic standing nationally. Statistical metrics are cold and brutal, and they can become easily cited sound bites, usually without context, for those heaving criticism at our students, teachers and administrators. What statistics and rankings don’t always show are the enormity of the challenges the school district faces and its ongoing struggles to raise student achievement. And because of that constant drumbeat of negativism, it’s too easy to overlook the many success stories that emanate from our schools. They deserve to be told and celebrated.”(more)