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)

Nevada’s Education Savings Account Program Facing Second Lawsuit

Education News – Grace Smith

“Nevada’s new Education Savings Account (ESA) is coming under attack again, with the group Educate Nevada Now suing the state on the basis that they believe the program is unconstitutional. The ESA gives parents the opportunity to use state funds to assist them in paying for their child’s private school tuition or a host of other education-related expenses. Stephanie Eisenberg of KLAS-TV says Educate Nevada Now has stated that public school funds should be used on public education.”(more)

School Choice And Nevada’s Revolutionary Education Savings Accounts

Forbes – Jon Hartley

“The late University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman famously observed that the United States ranks first in higher education across the globe while in terms of elementary and secondary education, however, the U.S. ranks near the bottom. The disparity stems mostly from choice. In higher education, Milton Friedman argued that the student chooses the school. The elementary and secondary school system is grounded on the school picking its students. Embodied in the continued work of the Friedman Foundation For Educational Choice, Professor Friedman’s support for school voucher programs was taken one step further as Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval made history earlier this month by establishing the first universal education savings accounts. The mechanism allows Nevada students that have been enrolled in public school for at least 100 days, meeting this eligibility requirement will allow parents that remove their children from an assigned district to use the educational savings fund dollars for their desired educational purposes.”(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)

Education’s Wild West

The U.S. News and World Report – Nat Malkus

“Earlier this month, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill establishing educational savings accounts in Nevada, creating an unprecedented state-wide opportunity for school choice. Nevada public school students will be eligible for accounts of more than $5,000 to spend on education expenses, including private schools. School choice proponents are heralding this as a big win because of its unparalleled scope. But choice under Nevada accounts may be a blade that cuts both ways. As my colleagues Rick Hess and Mike McShane have written, passing a school choice law is the easy part. As Nevada’s experiment plays out, policymakers across the country should be watching to see if it becomes a market-based success story or a cautionary tale. Only time will tell, but it may all come down to what kind of school choice $5,200 will buy in Nevada.”(more)