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Multicultural training mandate for Nevada teachers unenforced

A requirement for certain educators to complete a multicultural education course upon renewing their license has not been enforced by the state since a law passed four years ago mandated that prerequisite to boost cultural competency in the classroom.

In addition, thousands of students in Clark County have not yet been taught new multicultural standards that the law required be incorporated into social studies.

Calls for more training on racial bias and cultural competency have increased after an incident at Arbor View High School last month in which students posted racial slurs and threats toward African American students. Public outcry also heightened last week when Trustee Danielle Ford used the term “colored students” rather than “students of color” as the School Board was discussing how to address racial issues.

But little, if any, training has occurred.

The bill, passed in the 2015 legislative session, required teachers who obtained an initial license on or after July 1, 2015, to complete a course in multicultural education when renewing their license.

Yet the Commission on Professional Standards under the Department of Education did not issue a regulation on the content of such a course until September 2018 — more than three years after the law was enacted, according to the department.

As a result, the department did not enforce the requirement and is allowing the 12,630 applicable educators to renew their license without the course.

“The regulatory process does take long,” said department spokesman Greg Bortolin, noting that the process can take one to two years. “This, for some reason, took extraordinarily long and I don’t know why.”

The regulation still needs to be codified into law by the Legislative Commission, according to the department. In the meantime, a bill in this Legislative session would change the law so that educators who obtain an initial license on or after July 1, 2019, must take the course.

The delay also means that students have not yet learned new multicultural education topics that the bill required in new social studies standards — which also were not adopted until August 2018. Clark County School District students will be taught those new standards next school year, according to the district.

Harvey Munford, the former assemblyman who sponsored the 2015 bill, was surprised to hear the requirement for educators had not yet taken effect.

Race relation issues in Clark County, he said, are part of the repercussions of not acting on the bill.

“I know that the demographics in Clark County has changed a lot,” said Munford, who taught for 36 years in Clark County. “That’s what had me introduce that bill.”

The public has called for more training on cultural competency since the Arbor View incident.

At the School Board meeting last week, teacher Cari Ondush asked trustees for more training for teachers.

“I talk to my students about race; I talk to them openly about it,” she said. “And sometimes I’m scared about what I say because I don’t know what I should and shouldn’t say.”

Ebony Davis, a parent at Arbor View, said one of her son’s teachers told him he was more black than him because he liked chitlins and her son did not.

Meanwhile, the Clark County School District has announced a new policy requiring training for trustees on implicit racial bias and cultural competency.

“We are disappointed in the hurtful terminology that Trustee Danielle Ford used last night when discussing racial tensions at one of our high schools,” the School Board said in a statement on Friday following the meeting. “We understand the significance of that word and why the use of it is painful.”

In a video posted on Facebook, Ford issued an apology and asked forgiveness from the public.

“I have offended a very hurt and marginalized community, and I wish I could take it back,” she said. “Words do hurt and I understand the history of the painful significance around what I said. The School Board sets the tone for the entire district and I intend to use this mistake as an opportunity to improve my interactions and to help other people to do the same.”

The district announced last week that it is partnering with the National Equity Project to provide training on implicit bias and help improve school culture at Arbor View High School. That will eventually expand to other schools.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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