‘Education’ articles

100-day rule for ESAs stresses families out

The dilemma they face: Money and disruption
or quality education and burdensome costs?

Say you’re a family scrimping and sacrificing, in a still-tight Nevada economy, so your kids can escape some of the worst public schools in the country.

If you suddenly learn that, for each child you have, some $5,000 in state help may be available, you’re going to pay full attention.

Thus, thousands of Nevada private-school parents already are personally investigating and experiencing the Education Savings Account law that Nevada legislators and Gov. Brian Sandoval approved this spring.

But what those parents are finding is that — despite the good intentions behind the legislation — what the law actually offers is something that at least some of them might describe as a deal with the devil.

It offers them a hefty financial incentive if they will abandon, at least for 100 days — the better part of a school year — their private school, and place their children back in the ever-more crowded government-run schools, frequently violent and gang-dominated, and significantly inferior in classroom quality.

Continue reading »

Brian Sandoval, Man of the Hour?

Special session could address ESA legislation’s first-draft problems

Who’s the one man in Nevada with the authority to immediately resolve the problems besetting parents who want to set up Education Savings Accounts?

It’s Gov. Brian Sandoval, who signed the legislation in June.

That’s what Victor Joecks, executive vice president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute told scores of frustrated parents Friday at a regulatory hearing conducted by the Nevada Treasurer’s Office.

Continue reading »

Nevada parents demonstrate
massive desire for school choice

Attendance at Treasurer's regulatory workshop overflows even the ‘overflow’ room

Parents at Friday's Nevada ESAs regulatory workshop watch fellow participants at both Las Vegas and Carson City via statewide video connections.

Las Vegas parents swamped state treasurer hearing rooms at the Sawyer government center Friday, pleading that regulations soon to be written allow their children quickly into the state’s historic new Educational Savings Account program.

With the hearing room’s approximately 200-plus chairs soon full and people standing two-deep along one side and across the back of the room, Treasurer staff opened a smaller, overflow room in the back.

It, too, was soon overflowing.

What were the major questions on most attendees’ minds?

Clearly — given the repeated queries, pleas and statements of parents, school officials and others — those questions concerned a requirement in SB302, the enabling legislation introduced and sponsored by State senator Scott Hammond.

That bill requires that children, to qualify, must have “been enrolled in a public school in this State during the period immediately preceding the establishment of [their] education savings account[s] … for not less than 100 school days without interruption…”

Continue reading »

DeMint praises Nevada’s ESA law

Says state-based school-choice programs create momentum for national reform

Nevada parents this year received one of the most marvelous gifts lawmakers can provide: the ability for parents to customize the education of their own children.

That was the assessment yesterday by the president of the Heritage Foundation, former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, of last month’s passage into state law of Education Savings Accounts.

“This is what we’ve needed for years,” said DeMint, keynoting a Las Vegas education-reform event. “I know from raising four children — in the same environment, with the same parents — that all four were different.”

“They all had different learning styles,” he continued, “different interests, different aptitudes. And it wasn’t fair to force them all into the same mold.

“This idea of giving everyone the same thing at the same time in the same place, and saying that’s equality — it’s not. It’s the worst form of tyranny, when you recognize that every child is different.

Continue reading »

Expert critics of Common Core to face
NDE officials in unique public events

Forums designed to give lawmakers, parents, teachers
the chance to learn and ask questions

Two nationally recognized educators — both critics of the controversial Common Core State Standards — are scheduled to participate next week with representatives of the Nevada Department of Education in two public examinations of the pros and cons of Common Core.

The visiting experts are Dr. James Milgram, former member of the NASA Advisory Council and professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University, and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas’ Department of Education Reform. Stotsky is renowned for developing some of the country’s strongest sets of academic standards for K-12 students while serving as Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education.

Continue reading »

Federal education officials: Nevada can’t charge dad to look at children’s records

Dozens of mistakes identified in now-viewable records

LAS VEGAS — Remember the Nevada dad who was told it would cost him over $10,000 to see the records the State of Nevada has on his children, a story first reported by Nevada Journal?

He’s been allowed to view those records — without being charged — following intervention by the federal Department of Education. Student information warehoused in the Nevada State Longitudinal Data System, said federal officials, constitutes education records under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and therefore must be open to inspection by parents.

Continue reading »

CCSD spent over $13,000 discussing controversial sex-ed program

Plan was to ‘impact’ individuals throughout
community, school district; allegedly skirt parents

LAS VEGAS — The Clark County School District spent over $13,000 this year to discuss the child sex-education advocacy program that made headlines when it was reported that the district was considering teaching masturbation to Kindergartners.

The amount CCSD spent on the program led by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) comes from documents released by CCSD in response to public-record requests.

Over $9,750 went to pay SIECUS to provide “professional facilitation” in multiple CCSD focus groups, according to two purchase orders. Printed materials for the events cost another $3,328.

Continue reading »

Charter-school parents fear
the creeping CCSD mindset

Pinecrest Academy’s board seen as distancing itself from parent concerns

LAS VEGAS — Two years ago, parents packed a convention center ballroom to rally around the prospect that a new charter school would bring school choice to downtown Henderson.

Two years later, a change in school administration and a new direction taken by the school board has many of those same parents feeling they’d been the victims of something like a bait and switch.

“We came to Pinecrest (Academy) for something different,” Rebecca Franks told the Pinecrest board during a September 2 board meeting. “We came to Pinecrest because we wanted something better for our kids.”

Continue reading »

Administrator on CCSD payroll working
for another state government?

District investigation underway

LAS VEGAS — Has one of the Clark County School District’s department honchos found a way to eat taxpayer cake in two separate states at the same time?

It appears so.

In Southern Nevada, for nearly 12 years, Bramby Tollen was the director of CCSD’s purchasing and warehouse department. Then this March, according to district officials, she was transferred to the CCSD human resources department as an “Administrator on Special Assignment” — while continuing to earn a base salary of $104,760 a year, plus $1,800 annually for longevity.

Tollen’s total pay and benefits for the 2013 calendar year were $140,663.82, according to CCSD information on Transparent Nevada.

However, as of June 13, Snohomish County, Washington, has had a new purchasing manager — also named Bramby Tollen.

Continue reading »

‘You have every right to fight for your kids’

Civil rights pioneer speaks to Nevada parents about their rights

“I don’t want to go there, Daddy. They’re mean to us,” she said.

It was 1966 in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Virginia — one of about 135 black kids selected to desegregate Central High School — was talking with her father.

She was telling him how hard every day was and how horrible some of the white kids were acting.

Almost 10 years before, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus, defying a federal court order, had used the state National Guard to block nine black students from attending Central High. Then U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had federalized the Guard and, for good measure, sent in the 101st Airborne to protect the nine, even escorting them into class and through the halls.

By 1966, however, Central High was still not integrated. And Virginia and her twin sister Harrietta were experiencing what it was to desegregate a previously segregated public high school.

Continue reading »