Fundraising could give some schools an advantage

To the editor:

In response to Glenn Cook’s Sunday column, “Another way to restore school budget cuts”:

Neither the Nevada Parent Teacher Association nor any local PTA operating under our 501(c)3 nonprofit status is a fundraising organization. Not one.

Nevada PTA has for many years strongly suggested that local PTAs raise funds to run programs that increase family engagement and student outcomes. Nevada PTA further suggests that local PTA leaders work closely with their schools to offer volunteer support for the schools’ own fundraising efforts.

However, Nevada PTA does not advocate fundraising to make up for inadequate state support of public education. Why? For every parent group that can raise tens of thousands of dollars (such as the elementary school PTO cited by Mr. Cook), there are more schools that struggle to raise $1,000. How do we ensure that each student has access to the same high-quality education in that scenario? With raised money comes power and influence with the school, and a guaranteed seat at the table when decisions must be made. Of course, parents should be partners in that process — without the price tag.

Instead, we all need to look at the data and make sound decisions based upon it. The National Standards for Family-School Partnerships have been developed by the top researchers in the field, utilizing data and analysis, and are part of the Nevada Revised Statutes in their original form. The six standards for Family-School Partnerships with research finds are available at: www.pta.org/National Standards.pdf.

In response to Sunday’s transcribed interview with former Washington, D.C., chancellor Michelle Rhee:

The Nevada PTA supports education reform, in particular:

— Identifying, compensating and retaining the most effective teachers.

— Ending social promotion of students.

— Conducting transparent contract negotiations with school districts.

— Implementing effective family engagement across Nevada. Effective family engagement is by far the greatest predictor of student success. Although a strong teacher in the classroom and a principal-leader in the building are both important, neither has as much influence on successful student outcomes as effective family engagement.

The Nevada PTA is in its 71st year, working hard to get this message out to parents, teachers, principals, school system leadership and, yes, even to legislators.

Nevada PTA welcomes a serious discussion on how our community — including the Review-Journal — can work together to promote the data-driven answer to improving student outcomes: effective family engagement.

ALISON J. TURNER

LAS VEGAS

The writer is president of the Nevada PTA.

School reform

To the editor:

As a taxpayer, I have been closely watching some public agencies try to live within their available funds, while some others and individuals selfishly demand no personal sacrifice. Let somebody else be fired or their pay reduced.

Education is important, and getting the most value for the education buck is terribly important now.

And there are some changes I have not heard discussed that could generate more funds for the classroom.

One item is easing out all school busing for grades seven through 12. I would propose ending busing for grade 12 next school year, and possibly grade 11. Then drop busing for the other grades, one at a time each semester through grade seven. I would suggest that the school district work with the Regional Transportation Commission to help with the transition, routes and discounts.

More savings could come from eliminating the Clark County School District police and from ending all free or below-cost school meals, except for demonstrably homeless children.

No exceptions.

Then end all special language teaching. Keep French, German, Chinese, etc.

Being a teacher is special. Just because a person would like to be a teacher does not necessarily make that individual a good teacher. Standards must be set and maintained. If a teacher cannot advance students at a predetermined rate and level, the teacher should be replaced and given one more chance in another environment. Union obstruction in this area must not be tolerated. Seniority should not protect poor performance.

A person who does not demonstrate good teaching skills should not be considered for a school district’s administration. Candidates for administration positions should be required to demonstrate superior teaching results.

I know these ideas will cause a lot whining and grinding of teeth. But we need to do much, much better.

Donald Cooley

Henderson

Dangerous felons

To the editor:

There have been several articles posing the question, “Where can California put the 33,000 convicted felons it has been ordered to release from its penal institutions by our U.S. Supreme Court?”

A very good question. No state would want these criminals flooding its neighborhoods.

But there is a place within the continental United States that has no rights because it’s not a state.

A just solution would be to put every released criminal on a plane or bus with a one-way ticket to Washington, D.C. Politicians in Washington care about these dangerous felons and would always welcome a few more.

Federal acts causing problems should offer federal solutions. Perhaps they even could have a free tour of the Supreme Court building.

JOHN TOBIN

LAS VEGAS

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