COMMENTARY: A lack of accountability, not cash, is what ails the Clark County School District
Special to the Las Vegas Review-Journal
October 19, 2019
Nevada’s education woes reflect a lack of accountability, not insufficient funding.
Nevada is projected to spend $10,197 per student this school year, which reflects a near tripling in inflation-adjusted, per-pupil education spending since 1960.
Sadly, this dramatic increase in spending has not translated into improved results. Nevada schools consistently rank among the worst in the nation, with only 28 percent of eighth-grade students performing at grade level in both reading and math.
Some blame this continued failure on insufficient funding and argue that things won’t get better unless Nevadans agree to pay substantially higher taxes.
But there is little evidence to support the claim that higher taxes and more spending will lead to better results. In fact, a recent study commissioned by the Legislature found that the amount Nevada currently spends — including both state and local expenditures — is already sufficient “to ensure all students can meet all state standards and requirements.”
Rather than seeking to burden Nevadans with a massive tax hike that is unlikely to boost performance, reformers should instead focus their efforts on addressing the root cause of the problem: the system’s complete lack of accountability.
Take, for example, the so-called evaluation systems used by the Clark County School District.
More than 100 district schools have for years received failing grades from the state, including at least one school where an incomprehensible 99 percent of students are below grade level in math.
Yet in a twist that would make Orwell proud, school officials claim that the district hasn’t had a single ineffective principal or administrator anywhere for at least the past four years (No bad principals in Clark County, evaluators say).
A similarly useless evaluation system is in place for teachers, which saw only 25 of the nearly 20,000 teachers evaluated, or 0.1 percent, rated as ineffective for the 2017-18 school year.