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State Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop (D-SD8) promised to 'go to bat' for kids but introduced a bill to abolish efforts to convert low-performing public district schools into charter schools. (Campaign literature)

Las Vegas Schools Ranked 49th out of 50

Brutal assessment met with familiar ask: more tax dollars

By Megan Barth, December 9, 2021 6:00 am

“What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas”, and according to a a recent report released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and U.S Chamber of Commerce, “America’s Best and Worst Metro Areas for School Quality” the only things happening in the greater Las Vegas education system are low academic achievement, failing testing scores, and billions of dollars spent to “achieve”  it.

As reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal:  “The report placed the Las Vegas area — which encompasses all public schools, including the Clark County School District and charter schools — 49th out of 50, ahead only of the Honolulu, Hawaii, metropolitan area.”

The Las Vegas area “performs really poorly across the board’ in the metrics researchers examined,” said Adam Tyner, associate director of research for the Fordham Institute, a conservative national education think tank.

Tyner said the ratings were largely based on student academic growth — ‘very uncorrelated with raw academic achievement’ — but added, ‘The truth is Las Vegas is one of the few places that looks bad at either raw academic achievement (or) growth-focused outcomes.’

Rankings in the new report were based largely on academic growth (60 percent weight), but also measured academic growth among disadvantaged students, which it defined as Black, Hispanic and the economically disadvantaged (20 percent weight).

In individual categories, the Las Vegas area ranked 49th for academic growth, 42nd for growth among disadvantaged students, 28th for metropolitan area progress and 42nd for high school graduation rate.”

Taking a trip back in time to 2018, one month before Steve Sisolak became Nevada’s governor, he spoke to Hispanics in Politics about his passion for education. As reported by The Nevada Current, Sisolak stated:

“‘Education is one of my top priorities because I believe it is a great equalizer,’ Sisolak said. ‘Everyone should have the opportunity for better school regardless of their ZIP code or bank account.’

According to a recent Reno Gazette Journal/Suffolk University poll, education ranked as the top issue for voters when they are picking governor. Though he didn’t reference any specific policy plans, Sisolak acknowledged the need to reduce class sizes, increase teacher pay and expand opportunities for vocational training in schools.

‘We need to teach kids if you learn to be a plumber or carpenter, that’s a skill you can use for the rest of your life,” Sisolak said. “You can make good money and support yourself and your family.'”

Yet, even plumbers and carpenters need to read and have basic math skills, and based on testing scores from Clark County, future plumbers are a pipe dream and prospective carpenters are getting hammered.

As reported by The Globe, testing scores of 3rd to 8th grade students in Clark County, taken and published by Smart Balance Assessments, show that only 3.9% of Black students and 7.4% of Hispanic students were proficient in Math. In English, 11.2% of Black students and 15.7% of Hispanic students were proficient. Overall, only 20 percent of Clark County students tested proficient in English Language Arts. In math, it was 11.5 percent.

“Everyone should have the opportunity for better school regardless of their ZIP code or bank account?”

In 2019, the opportunity for “disadvantaged” children to attend better schools, regardless of their zip code, was obliterated by Sisolak and the Democratic majority by the passage of  Senate Bill 321.  SB 321 was sponsored by Democratic Senators Marilyn Dondero Loop, Joyce Woodhouse, Moises Denis, Tyrone Thompson, and cosponsored by Democratic Senators Chris Books and David Parks.

As foreshadowed in a tweet by the Nevada Senate Republicans:

The Nevada Current reported:

“Nevada’s initiative for converting public schools into charter schools may be coming to an end.

State Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop (D) on Monday introduced SB 321, a bill to abolish the Achievement School District, which allows low-performing public district schools to be converted into charter schools overseen directly by the Department of Education. The Achievement School District was created by the Republican-controlled 2015 Legislature.

According to the district’s website, there are four schools currently within the Achievement School District: Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, Futuro Academy, Nevada Preparatory Charter School, and Nevada Rise Academy. Eight additional schools — all in Southern Nevada — were flagged for potential conversion by the state board late last year.

SB 321 would give the existing achievement schools until July 1, 2020 to secure sponsorship under another authorizer body. That could mean a public school district, university or the State Public Charter School Authority. If an alternate sponsor is not found, the school would be forced to close.”

American Rescue Plan Nevada Allocation
Allocated dollars from the American Rescue Plan (Photo: Troy Delap, Group Six Partners, Twitter)

Twelve potential schools, giving “disadvantaged” children the opportunity to succeed, were abolished or converted into a failing public school system when Sisolak signed SB 321. Sen. Loop talked a big game to get elected, but in the final inning, she didn’t “go to bat” for these kids, or their parents. She and her Democratic colleagues went to bat for the unions.

Billions of dollars have been allocated and budgeted for education, and in November 2022, Nevadans will decide if they want to pay a billion more in taxes to fund a failing education system.

The powerful  Clark County Education Association took to the streets during a pandemic shutdown and surprisingly gathered enough signatures for two ballot initiatives. These ballot initiatives would raise taxes on gambling revenues and sales taxes, bringing the state’s baseline sales tax rate to 8.35 percent, making Nevada the highest base-line tax rate in the nation.  While counties have differing sales tax rates, that change would result in a 9.875 percent sales tax in Clark County, making the state’s most populous county the highest local tax rate in the nation.

Sisolak continues to donate his salary to education and has promised to do so until the rankings improve. Three years into his term, the largest metropolitan area in the state is 49th in the country in education. Next November, if education is still the top issue for voters, the largest voting bloc in the state will decide if he will donate another four years of his salary. They will also decide whether to give billions more of their tax dollars to this educational abomination and re-elect or throw out the Democratic politicians who abolished their kids’ educational choices.

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