Change at schools will take more than talk

To the editor:

Time and time again I have read articles in the Review-Journal addressing the very serious issues of the Clark County School District. Glenn Cook’s Sunday column was another is this long line. All these articles have a common thread: oversimplification and incorrect information.

Mr. Cook pointed to the recent change making semester exams worth 20 percent of a student’s semester grade, rather than 10 percent. What Mr. Cook failed to acknowledge is that this proposal predated the tenure of new Superintendent Dwight Jones and Deputy Superintendent Pedro Martinez.

The idea had been suggested by some teachers, not administrators, as far back as two years ago. It was initially proposed for the opposite reason Mr. Martinez gives — it was to help raise the grade of the student who struggles during the semester, but finally shows mastery on the final. At 10 percent, there is no incentive for students to try to do well on their finals.

It is further disturbing to have a deputy superintendent who chooses to comment on a class such as “Intuitive Geometry” without any obvious research into the subject or its necessity. To have a person with so much authority in the school district say, “I have no idea what this (class) is” shows a lack of real engagement in the system and the needs of our students.

It is a wonderful thing to support higher expectations and higher standards, but there has been a consistent lack of focus on the practical concerns of educating our population. How do you get a child who cannot do basic math to grade level without remediation? I have heard neither Mr. Jones nor Mr. Martinez provide any practical solution to that very challenging issue.

That is, incidentally, what Intuitive Geometry works to accomplish. It is meant to help those children who come to high school unprepared to gain skills in math without dragging down the students working at grade level and above.

Our standards are low, but so much of what determines success in a student occurs beyond the control of the school district. I have yet to see any proposals for addressing poverty, gangs, homelessness, unemployment or parental apathy, all of which plague the district and can only increase as our economy fails to recover.

As for Mr. Cook’s praise for teachers “putting in the extra work necessary to catch up,” I simply ask, how much more free work do you expect from the professionals charged with educating our children? Teachers work hours and hours unpaid, facing mounting class sizes, increasing lack of respect for rules and authority, pay cuts, benefit cuts and the constant demoralizing barrage of negative media hype. Still, you demand more. Soon, we will all be asking why all the good teachers left the district.

I respect the difficult task Mr. Jones has ahead, but let’s not pretend he can answer our issues with lofty ideas and great speeches. As we have learned at the highest levels of government the last few years, inspiring rhetoric does not equate to results.

Elisa George

Henderson

Phone home

To the editor:

Our new law prohibiting hand-held cellphone use while driving is soon to take effect, so I hope the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles is set to assist in the enforcement of it. I certainly wish the DMV would have a page on its website to report violators, as it does with vehicles with smoking exhaust systems.

This could be reported in the same way, by giving a license number, the make of vehicle, and date, time and place observed. Then a warning letter could be sent to the registered owner.

William H. Isaac II

Henderson

Spaced out

To the editor:

A recent news item described a proposed NASA project, the Space Launch System. This new launch rocket would be even more powerful than the Saturn V system that was used in the successful Apollo moon landings, and it could open up a new era in space exploration and scientific advancement.

Unfortunately, this project is pure fantasy. It will never be fully funded, and no one has the persistence to see it through to completion.

This project is estimated to cost around $18 billion for research and development and an additional amount approximately equal to that for the production and launch phase. So let’s say the total program cost would be $40 billion. How does this compare to the cost of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also referred to as the economic stimulus)? Well, as best I can determine, we spent around $550 billion on the stimulus, with very little of that actually going to something useful.

So for less than one-tenth of what was wasted on the stimulus (which was not all that stimulating), we could have something really cool and that would actually have some payoff.

The government will never go through with it.

James Moldenhauer

North Las Vegas

A right

To the editor:

An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation. A “right” is itself an entitlement associated with a moral or social principle, such that an “entitlement” is a provision made in accordance with legal framework of a society. Typically, entitlements are laws based on concepts of principle (“rights”) which are themselves based in concepts of social equality or enfranchisement.

Given this working definition, if Social Security is cut, perhaps we should also cut the right to free speech, the right to vote, and the right to a public education. Hmm.

L. Woods

Henderson

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