Beyond a narrow scope of content knowledge

To the editor:

In response to “State schools superintendent argues against automatic teacher raises” (Nov. 17), let’s be clear about one thing: James Guthrie’s goal is not to improve the quality of student education in this state. His only goal is to reduce teacher salaries.

How can a man who is the superintendent of public instruction actually ask that the state Legislature not give public schools more money? Has anybody in the private sector who loves to bash teachers ever heard of the head of any organization saying “Give us less money. We’re doing fine with what we have”?

Mr. Guthrie insists that before anything else happens in Nevada, a solid teacher evaluation system must be in place. He argues that we need to base these evaluations on test scores. Never mind the fact that numerous studies have shown that the value-added system of teacher evaluation is a farce and that teachers do not react to performance-based pay. While we are at it, let’s not forget the work of economist James Heckman from the University of Chicago that suggests it is the quality of character that students learn in four years of high school, rather than the narrow scope of content knowledge from teaching to standardized tests, that gives the greatest return on investment to the public.

I’ll agree there are teachers out there who shouldn’t be teaching. It’s just like any other career. But the zealots are wrong; the teachers union didn’t ruin the world. Unlike what Mr. Guthrie suggests, the vast majority of teachers are hardworking individuals who want student success so bad they can taste it.

How does a man like Mr. Guthrie get a job as the superintendent of public instruction, anyway? You’d think somebody in this position would at least have spent some time doing public instruction, wouldn’t you? A quick look at his resume shows that Mr. Guthrie has not spent a single minute in a public K-12 school. His whole career has been spent at the university level.

How quaint. Does Mr. Guthrie even have a teaching license? A quick search of the Nevada Teacher Licensing website shows no results for James W. Guthrie. Shouldn’t a man who claims that class size doesn’t matter know what it is like to be in the classroom?

Several careers require professional licenses. If you are in one of these careers, how would you feel about somebody who isn’t even qualified to do the work telling you how to do your job? It’s beyond ridiculous.

In his most recent interview with the Review-Journal, Mr. Guthrie claims that class size doesn’t matter. I’m sick of it. There are classes in the Clark County School District with more than 60 students and one teacher teaching three subjects in one class period. Come on, Mr. Guthrie, let’s have a nice little test to see how much class size matters.



Gun rights

To the editor:

Albert Einstein claimed insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This time, C. Douglas Nielsen (“In the Outdoors” column, Nov. 8) has repeated an alarm over gun rights because he “knows” the Obama administration is planning on taking gun rights away. His proof? Mr. Nielsen offers a conversational comment by President Obama that he doesn’t believe private citizens have the right to own weapons that belong in a military setting.

There’s no evidence such a plan exists and there is even less political will. Gun advocates just can’t take yes for an answer. You won. The only reason the false sentinels continue to blather is because it is good business for the NRA fundraisers. No compromise, ever. Not even on child-proof locks.

Military weapons do not belong in a civilian setting. To believe otherwise is pure gun-nut lunacy. But Mr. Nielsen and other gun enthusiasts continue to sound the alarm about the black helicopters coming to enslave the Second Amendment devotees.

In fairness, Mr. Nielsen’s major point involved arcaner classification of automatic weapons. However, such hair-splitting is a long way from jackboots breaking down the door.



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