By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… The current national news cycle is centered on issues of President Trump’s administration, and for the most part, it is negative. The sexual adventures of various American celebrities, mainly incidents that have happened in the distant past, take national news headlines. Locally, however, the major issue has been the state’s education system and its failure to educate our children.
The emphasis on education and its failures is a valid topic for discussion across the state in general and in Clark County specifically. When one realizes that well over half of all the tax dollars in the State of Nevada and the County of Clark are spent directly on education, it seems only appropriate that the taxpayers should take a great interest in the educational institutions of the State and County. If you have no interest in this issue, you can stop reading now for I am going to look at some of the major educational issues in the current news.
The failed attempt to reorganize the CCSD, from a central command-and-control organization to a central service agency for local schools, has dominated the local news for three years. Those who were involved in the original movement understand that the purpose was to break the 322,000-student, 40,000-employee, district into a number of smaller more manageable precincts. Those hopes were quickly dashed when the legislative committee rewrote the original bill from creating smaller districts into reorganizing the CCSD into a service agency.
Service would seem like a logical role for the central office of the CCSD. However, as is the case with most entrenched bureaucracies, control rather than service is the goal of central CCSD.
When concentrating on the operation of the fifth largest school district in the United States, one gets the feeling that every child could stay home and every school could close but the central office would continue to function. Paper would continue to be shuttled and decisions that have very little relevance to the day to day education of students would continue. When the word reached central office personnel that the schools were closed, they would fire the individual who brought that fact to their attention and continue pontificating on high with no results.
Teacher retention is another major issue for the CCSD. The Governor has had to file an emergency regulation to keep as many as 900 CCSD teachers from losing their credentials and, thus, their jobs. The state law requires Nevada teachers to take a state-approved college level course on parent and family engagement. This course takes a full semester of classes and cost the teacher up to $1,600.
It might be pointed out that the 900 teachers were aware of this and had three years to meet the provision. Nonetheless, the loss of these teachers over a ridiculous requirement would only add to the annual burden of replacing retirees and other teachers who have moved on to more “teacher friendly” districts. The district started this year with over 600 teacher vacancies and the prospect for next year is even worse. The last thing CCSD needs is to have to replace 900 more teachers, no matter whose fault it is.
One must wonder what a college professor who has no interaction with parents can possibly teach the classroom teacher who is continually dealing with parents and family members. Once again, we have a case of the unknowing requiring the unwilling to do the unnecessary.
We also have many other issues facing the new Superintendent. He/she will inherit a Board of Trustees who are appealing an arbiter’s decision to move the teacher one step on the salary schedule, a legislature that is attempting to destroy the teachers retirement system, a system requiring teachers to continue to spend their money meeting ridiculous certification requirements, as well as colluding with the teacher’s association in developing a method for advancement that is completely undecipherable. And we wonder why we have trouble retaining teachers.
On top of this, the district’s chief negotiator has been forced to resign due to a complaint of creating a hostile work environment, filed by a retired employee of CCSD’s Department of Employee Management. While Dr. Goldman resigned as the main negotiator he is still employed as the head of the Employee Management Department.
I find it interesting that he resigned from a position as the Chief Negotiator for the District but he is still the head of the Employee Management Department, whatever that is, where the complaint was filed.
I have no idea how effective Dr. Goldman was running the Employee Management Department but every teacher can attest to the fact that Dr. Goldman was very effective in countering the efforts of teachers in attempts to increase their financial status. Over the last twenty or so years, millions of dollars that legislators earmarked for teacher compensation never ended with teachers due to Dr. Goldman’s hardnose negotiating.
It would not surprise me to find that Dr. Goldman may not be the easiest man to work with but that is the very quality that made him successful in dealing with teacher and administrative organization when it came time to negotiate for compensation.
All that being said, Dr. Goldman has been around for every bit of thirty years and his contract with the District is being re-negotiated. It may be time for him to fold his tent and ride off into the sunset.
The soon to be replaced Superintendent is presenting a typical bureaucratic solution to the lack of a negotiator by recommending the creation a new central office position called the Chief Negotiator. He will, of course, have to have a complete staff and a position that was once filled by an Associate Superintendent as part of his duties will now become a full blown bureaucratic office. Maybe the Superintendent, who will be gone in June, should wait and let the new Superintendent decide how to deal with the issue.
Speaking of the new Superintendent, whoever that might be, I wish him/her luck. We have seen many a well-meaning administrator come and go. Most have left with their reputation tarnished rather than enhanced. However, if someone took this position and righted the ship, they would go down in the educational hall of fame.
Thought of the week…”There’s nothing like a shipwreck to spark the imagination of everyone who was not on that specific ship.”
– Jon Stewart