By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… A headline jumped out at me this morning: “Four Turnaround Schools get new principals”. The article went on to say this summer the new principals will be hiring new staff members for “persistently low-performing Clark County public schools”.
Interestingly enough, the district has just renewed a two-year contract for over seven and a half million dollars with EdisonLearning Inc., a private company that over the last ten years has failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress in any of the schools it administers for the District. It appears that it is all right to not educate children if you do so as a private organization but not if you are a public school.
Remember last year three high schools were declared turn-a-round schools? The district pumped three million extra dollars into each of those schools as well as removing the teaching staffs and the administrators. The newly appointed principals were then allowed to hire a new staff that could not consist of more than half of those teachers removed from the school.
Interestingly enough, none of those teachers or administrators who were deemed inadequate to continue in their present positions lost their jobs. They were merely transferred to other schools in the district.
This rather drastic move was made to protect an eight million dollar federal grant.
Now I am not much of a mathematician but spending nine million dollars to save eight million dollars does not seem fiscally sound. But that may just be me.
However, maybe there was some educational gain that would explain the one million dollar short fall involved. The only results that have been released to the public so far is that there was an increase of one hundred students graduating from Chaparral High School this year. Assuming this is due to the three million extra dollars spent this year at Chaparral, that figures out to a cost of about $30,000 per additional graduate.
I am sure the district will soon release test scores from all the turn-a-round schools that will show improvement across the board. One could only wonder if the staff had not been removed but the monetary investment been made, would the results have been the same?
Since the administrators and teachers deemed inadequate to remain at the turn-a-round schools were not fired but were spread throughout the district, I believe studying the turn-a-round schools is only half of the job that should be done. While all the attention is being directed to the turn-a-round schools why not look at the schools where those teachers and administrators deemed inadequate were sent. Did these schools score worse, better or stay the same as the year before? How did the high schools that were placed in the hands of the principals that were deemed less than satisfactory in their old position do on their test scores? How did the students who studied under the teachers the district deemed so poor they had to be removed do under their tutelage? This would be a great opportunity to either dispel or prove the effect of the teacher on the classroom versus the social setting from which the student arrives at the school each morning.
No one asked me but… There were two Supreme Court decision made in the last week that I find interesting.
The one that has drawn the most attention is the decision concerning the health care bill. The decision did nothing to clarify what the bill did or did not do, but those were not the questions at hand. The question was the constitutionality of a law that requires the American people to purchase an item from a private agency against their will.
Chief Justice Roberts correctly stated that the government could not do that. However, he did say the government had the right to tax. Therefore it could tax those who chose not to purchase an item from a private carrier. Since the penalty for not buying health insurance was a tax, the government had the right to impose the tax.
We might have been better off had the court ruled that the government could require you to buy the insurance. If the government can tax you for what you don’t buy that could open all kinds of doors.
What if the government deemed it necessary for everyone to purchase an automobile but you chose not to? Could the government then tax you for the car you did not buy?
What if you don’t want to fly but the government decided that all trips in America over 500 miles must be done by air? Could they tax you for not flying?
The British government placed a two-cent tax on the tea one drank not on the tea one did not choose to drink. When they placed the Stamp Tax, it was only on documents that people purchased not on ones the government thought they should purchase. This caused the people to go to war. But that was in the day before Americans were fat and happy with the government taking care of them from cradle to grave. Come to think of it, that was before there was an America.
Conversely, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime to lie about receiving military medals. By a 6-3 decision, the high court said the right to lie about medals and military service is protected by the 1st Amendment.
A California man claimed he was a former Marine and recipient of the Medal of Honor; in fact, he had never served in the military. Under the Stolen Valor Act passed while President Bush was in office, this individual was sentenced to three years probation, a $5,000 fine and community service.
The Supreme Court overturned the conviction based on the First Amendment right to free speech.
While I find the claiming of military heroism despicable, I really don’t believe it should be criminalized. If the person uses it to defraud the government of financial benefits, that is another question and the individual should be held accountable for fraud. If a person lies to secure a job, it should be grounds for firing but not for putting the person in jail. I would think the embarrassment of being proven a liar would be punishment enough.
Thought of the week…What five members of the Supreme Court say the law is may be something vastly different from what Congress intended the law to be.
– Benjamin F. Fairless