By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… Four years ago, Assemblyman David Gardner proposed a bill to break up the Clark County Schools District. While the movement was centered in the city of Henderson it became a very popular cause among the grassroots of Clark County.
On March 17, 2015, Assemblyman Gardner proposed the following: “AN ACT relating to education; prescribing the process by which the governing body of an incorporated city may create a local school precinct (my emphasis) …” The bill was an eight-page document that outlined the actions that had to be taken for an incorporated city to set up a local school precinct.
When the bill was proposed, the CCSD was led by a seven-member Board of School Trustees elected from seven districts. There was no representation for rural schools or rural communities. It was ruled by a dictatorial Superintendent and divided into sixteen performance zones headed by sixteen Assistant
Superintendents who controlled the local administrators and carried out the dictates of the Superintendent. The CCSD was made up of over 300,000 students and ranked near the bottom in all measurements of success in education.
With the introduction of the bill, the lobbying began. When the bill was passed, all eight pages of instructions as to how to break-up the District were deleted from the bill. The bill was completely emasculated. An act to break-up the District became a bill to reorganize the CCSD.
The AB394 that was passed became unrecognizable from the AB394 originally introduced. Compare the opening of the bill, quoted above, as first presented with the final product: “AN ACT relating to education; authorizing boards of trustees of contiguous school districts to consolidate their respective school districts; creating an advisory committee for the purpose of developing a plan to reorganize the Clark County School District (my emphasis) into certain local school precincts…”
The differences in AB394 as originally written and as it was passed are:
1. The original bill was not district specific. It would have applied to all districts in the state. The bill as passed was CCSD specific.
2. The original’s first 21 sections outlining the process by which an incorporated city could establish a precinct within a district were deleted.
3. The original bill made no mention of a committee. The bill as passed set up a committee to redo the provisions stricken from the original proposal.
While AB 369 called for one committee, four committees actually were established. The formation of a committee is one of the most common delaying and destroying tactics of those who oppose any idea. Committees are where good ideas go to die. The camel is a horse created by a committee. For the next three years, there was a lot of talk by members of the various committees but little action on the part of the District. The major result of the committees was the spending of $1.5 million dollars on various consultants.
However, the emasculated bill that moved from breakup of the district to a reorganization was still too strong for the legislators. Those who opposed the bill pointed out that the bill merely made provision for a committee to study it. It did not make provision for implementation. Therefore, another bill would have to be proposed.
AB 469 replaced AB369 and is summarized by the opening statement to the new bill as follows: AN ACT relating to education; reorganizing large school districts; requiring large school districts to deem each school in the district to be a local school precinct; transferring the authority to carry out certain responsibilities from the central administrative staff of large school districts to such local school precincts; requiring large school districts to allocate money to local school precincts to carry out the responsibilities transferred to the local school precincts; providing for the reorganization of the central administrative staff of large school districts; requiring a plan of operation to be developed for each local school precinct; requiring annual surveys to be administered to persons involved with local school precincts and to the central administrative staff of large school districts; providing for the continuation of an advisory committee to oversee the implementation of the reorganization of large school districts; repealing provisions requiring the reorganization of the Clark County School District; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
AB 469 has become state law under NRS 388G.
And now, rather than embrace the law as written, the CCSD has decided to circle the wagons and defend the status quo and, as best they can, simply ignore the law. The District is fighting to maintain central dictatorial control rather than accepting the opportunity to localize educational decisions.
So, what we have now is a District led by a seven-member Board of School Trustees elected from seven districts. There is still no representation for rural schools or rural communities. The District is still ruled by a dictatorial Superintendent and is still divided into fifteen performance zones headed by fifteen School Associate Superintendents who still control the local administrators and still, for the most part, carry out the dictates of the dictatorial Superintendent.
While a few of the School Associate Superintendents understand the law and its attempt to localize decisions, some do not. Those that do understand the law are hampered by the self-identified “Benevolent Dictator” Superintendent and his inner circle as they work to minimize the effect of the law.
The CCSD is still made up of over 300,000 students and still ranks near the bottom in all measurements of success in education.
All this brings to mind the definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
It will be interesting to see if the CCSD Board of Trustees will seek out a new Superintendent who can read the law and function within it or if they will hire another “Benevolent Dictator” who will join with those board members that want to fight the law as written.
It remains to be seen if the State Superintendent of Instruction, who is tasked with the job of enforcing AB 469, as incorporated in NRS 388G, will force the District to comply with the law that they have for the most part, up until now, attempted to circumvent.
Thought of the week… “Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.”
– Daniel H. Pink