CCSD’s graduation initiative a success

To the editor:

In your April 11 article, “CCSD’s initial graduation rate claims proven inaccurate,” it’s true that we made a mistake in giving a preliminary graduation rate based on the data we had at the time, only to discover last week that we did not have complete information.

However, I believe the tone of the story will leave your readers with the impression that the graduation initiative we embarked upon in 2011 did not work. Not only is this not true, it would be a mistake to diminish the great work that occurred last year by our high school principals, teachers, counselors, attendance officers, support staff, community members and business leaders.

During the 2011-12 academic year, the state of Nevada changed its method of computing graduation rates to more accurately reflect the number of students graduating in four years. This change created challenges for the Clark County School District, as it has an antiquated student information system and high transiency rates.

With the new method of computing graduation rates, we had a larger student cohort that began in the fall of 2008 than we anticipated. The final result is a graduation rate of 61.59 percent, which although higher than the previous year, was lower than our projections. It should be noted that without the additional 5,000 students who were helped last year, graduation rates for 2012 would have dropped below 50 percent.

In May 2011, the school district launched a graduation initiative to focus on the nearly 10,000 incoming seniors who were at risk of not graduating on time. Students were identified, individual academic plans were created and resources were strategically aligned to increase student supports. Business leaders, community members and district staff came together to find solutions to keep more students in school. What resulted was the largest number of graduates in this district’s history, graduating 15,296 students out of 20,000 seniors. The fact of the matter is we were able to reverse the decline in graduation rates. More importantly, the existing culture, which has historically tolerated children dropping out, began to shift to one of higher expectations.

I can’t emphasize the importance of this last point too much. Does this mean the Clark County School District is where it needs to be? No, but it does mean that it’s on the right track.

It’s incumbent upon the Washoe County School District and Clark County School District to continue on our path of reforms. We’re the two largest school districts in Nevada, making up more than 90 percent of the students in our state, therefore it’s our responsibility to continue to improve graduation rates and ensure our children can be meaningful contributors to our communities.

PEDRO MARTINEZ

RENO

The writer, former deputy superintendent of the Clark County School District, is superintendent of the Washoe County School District.

Out-of-state workers

To the editor:

I reside in Arizona but have worked in the casinos of Laughlin for the past 23 years. Assembly Bill 166, as written, would allow the state of Nevada to charge all residents of Arizona who work in the casinos of Laughlin an annual fee of $150 per vehicle, just to have the ability to get to work (Tuesday Review-Journal editorial). In my household, that would cost my wife and I $300 per year, because we both work in Laughlin. Assembly Bill 166 is taxation without representation, and it has passed at the committee level.

The passing of AB 166 would cause quite a hardship on many of the employees in Laughlin. Tip-related income has dropped dramatically, in step with the revenues of the casinos. Many employees are hired into part-time positions so they will not receive benefits. I have 23 years of experience as a dealer and manager, never terminated, and I just accepted a part-time job because that is all there is for me. I would like to add that my two previous jobs were also only part-time.

Recently, the city of Bullhead City and Clark County made an agreement to use Bullhead City firefighters and equipment in Laughlin, in order to save Nevada money. Now the state wants to take advantage of the struggling employees of this city. How unfair. It must be easy to vote on a bill that may generate an estimated $6.8 million to $7.4 million per year, when the people who are affected by the passing of such legislation have absolutely no legal recourse, or even the ability to vote against the lawmakers who favor AB 166.

I urge Nevada lawmakers to vote no on AB 166. It is both unfair and unenforceable. The employees of Laughlin casinos deserve better. We should not be required to pay $150 annually for the right to get to our jobs.

Michael Marmiani

Golden Valley, Ariz.

Guns save lives

To the editor:

The April 10 column by Thomas Sowell, “The many times guns save lives,” contained numerous specious claims, but the most ridiculous was his assertion that if “guns cost more lives than they save, we can always repeal the Second Amendment.” As Mr. Sowell must know, the repealing of a constitutional amendment requires more than a pencil eraser. It’s a prolonged process requiring a two-thirds vote by both congressional houses and ratification by two-thirds of the states.

Further, how could anyone ever determine with any degree of accuracy whether there are more deaths caused by criminals with guns than deaths prevented by law-abiding citizens with guns? The actual number of deaths caused by criminals using guns can be accurately determined by counting the number of victims. In contrast, if a law-abiding person with a gun intervenes and stops the criminal, the actual number of deaths prevented by the intervention can never be accurately determined because it entails an attempt to prove a negative — i.e., if the criminal hadn’t been stopped, then X number of people might have been killed. It has little weight.

STEVE DANNING

LAS VEGAS

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