Protesting students would be better off in class


Yes, it's a shame some of the principals are being ousted at five Clark County public schools and all the teachers at those schools are having to reapply for their jobs. It's a crying shame it took the lure of $9 million in federal grants to finally prompt it.

The school superintendent and the School Board should have taken steps like this long ago and at many more schools, whether the federal government offers money for it or not.

The district is making the move to qualify under federal rules for the millions in grants. Those rules say only half of a qualifying school's personnel may be retained. Eligible schools should have large portions of students from low-income families, state proficiency test scores in the bottom 5 percent and high school graduation rates less than 60 percent.

Three high schools are targeted -- Chaparral, Mojave and Western -- and two elementary schools -- Elizondo and Hancock.

Hundreds of Chaparral students took to the sidewalks after school Wednesday waving banners and shouting "Save our teachers," "Let's go, Cowboys" and "We are Chap!"

They should have signed up for after-school math tutoring, instead.

Fully 44 percent of them failed to achieve math proficiency in the latest tests, but that was better than the scores at Mojave and Western, where the failure to achieve proficiency rates were 56 and 50 percent, respectively. The two elementary schools also registered poor performances.

But merely throwing more federal money at the problem is not going to improve anything unless the schools demand discipline and rigor from the students and individually reward teachers who manage to achieve growth in student proficiency.

Apparently no one expects any of the principals or teachers to be fired, Instead, they will be transferred to other jobs in the school district. In fact, this could amount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic -- with ousted teachers at one targeted school ending up filling openings at one of the others, presumably taking their poor results with them.

If they failed to perform at their current schools, merely transferring them to other schools does nothing but move potential problems to new locales.

This is a futile grab for federal bucks with little real effort at reform. Real reform would include kicking out troublemaking students and firing teachers who fail to raise their students' achievement level during the academic year.

Incentive pay for performance is one thing, but providing an incentive to keep your job in these recessionary times could be downright inspirational.

 

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