The smell of cash has the state’s education bureaucrats doing an about-face over a Nevada law that prevents classroom data measuring student performance from being used to reward or punish individual teachers.
For nearly a decade, teacher unions and other officers of the education establishment have steadfastly defended the law — in fact, they were the ones who pushed compliant legislative Democrats to pass it in the first place.
But now the statute threatens the state’s ability to tap into the $4.3 billion “Race to the Top” fund set aside by the Obama administration to help turn around failing schools. Only states that can document performance are eligible for the money.
But with the Nevada budget buried in a revenue sinkhole, momentum now seems to be growing for a special session of the Legislature to alter the law so the state can sidle up to the beltway trough. Teacher union officials in recent weeks have indicated they’ll accept changes to the statute.
That sounds good, but …
The current law is indeed an impediment to accountability. It should be swept off the books regardless of how much money Washington dangles in front of the state. The fear, though, is that the teacher unions and other obstacles to true reform will use their considerable clout with their Democratic puppets in the Assembly to craft a watered-down bill that continues to shield underperforming teachers while somehow technically meeting federal requirements.
So we’ll curb our enthusiasm until we see a specific proposal.