Clark County middle school system is broken

To the editor:

I am beginning my ninth year as a middle school teacher in the Clark County School District. I love my job and have no intention of ever moving out of the middle school level. However, in response to recently published “adequate yearly progress” results in district schools, I have some discouraging observations about our middle schools.

In mid-August, the Review-Journal published a positive report on the district’s “adequate yearly progress” status. It was reported that the district as a whole met the No Child Left Behind yearly requirements. Out of all the specific examples of improvement mentioned in the article, however, there were no stories of middle school successes to share.

In addition to the article, there was a side column listing schools under some specific categories. In the four categories designating successful schools, there was only one middle school listed. Unfortunately, 27 middle schools were listed under the fifth and final column, “Schools never designated as adequate.”

This article prompted me to do some further reading. I accessed the full adequate yearly progress report supplied on the Review-Journal’s website, only to find a few more disquieting results. (Alternative and charter schools are not included in the following observations.)

— Out of about 57 “regular” middle schools in the Las Vegas Valley, only nine made AYP.

– Forty-four of the 57 middle schools I counted have been non-proficient for more than 50 percent of the time (based upon the number of years each school has been reporting AYP).

— Twenty-five of the 54 district schools that have never made AYP are middle schools.

It is painfully obvious that the middle school structure as it stands is not working for today’s children. Many children are coming to middle school reading below a fifth-grade level and/or not knowing their multiplication tables. Because the district requirements to pass from one grade to the next are so lenient in middle school, students can fail most of their classes and still be promoted to the next grade. The students are aware of these low expectations, and many take advantage of the opportunity to pass with limited effort.

The district requirements need to be looked at as a major contributor to the less-than-adequate progress being made in our middle schools. Superintendent Walt Rulffes and the School Board need to closely examine these and many more problems and restructure our middle schools to give our students a better chance for success at the high school and college level.



Real news

To the editor:

Do you think I care about the time you spend reporting on Paris Hilton? Shame on the Review-Journal. Do you really think anyone cares about her?

Instead, I would like you to deal with the issue of local senior citizens who can’t get an American answering the phone when we call our doctors.

Elaine Van Nostran

las Vegas

Stay grounded

To the editor:

Harry Reid need run only one simple ad against Sharron Angle to show he is better for Nevada. Show clips of her running from local reporters and then ask, “If she’s afraid to talk to Nevada reporters, how will she stand up and fight for you in Washington?”

Isn’t it obvious her own handlers are afraid of what she’ll say next? She may get away with it here, but that will never fly inside the Beltway.

Susan Gordon

Las Vegas

Matter of votes

To the editor:

Most people in our valley have an opinion about the effectiveness of our schools and the district administrators. As a parent of three children who attend our public schools, I have followed the school district (and its Board of Trustees) as it has dealt with extreme challenges over the years, such as skyrocketing student enrollment, building shortages, teacher shortages, zoning issues and budget cuts.

These issues just compound the typical problems that face the Clark County School District and every other large, urban district in this country, such as student transiency and low graduation rates.

I recognize where there are areas of concern. Fortunately, there is no shortage of forums to respectfully address those concerns. Although Andres Mendoza is trying to represent a group of several thousand concerned parents and members of this community, his battle with the Board of Trustees is not helpful (“School Board critic gathering supporters, representation,” Wednesday Review-Journal).

We all know what is at stake — the selection of a new superintendent will impact every student, every family and every school. Let members of the Board of Trustees do the job they were elected to do. They designed the selection process, and they understand the importance of having a superintendent in place by the time the Legislature convenes.

Will we accomplish anything by heaping abuse on these elected officials? Please allow me to point out that four of the seven trustees were elected less than two years ago. In District A, 49,958 voters (56 percent) chose Deanna Wright to represent them on the School Board. In District B, 44,977 voters (50.5 percent) chose Chris Garvey to serve on the School Board. In District C, 24,879 voters (66 percent) selected Linda Young to serve on the School Board.

Specifically, in District E, 46,323 voters (71.4 percent) chose Terri Janison as their representative to the board. In calling for Ms. Janison’s resignation, is it Mr. Mendoza’s intent is to ignore all of these voters, or insult them?

Clorinda Fontano

NOrth Las VEgas

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