Posts Tagged ‘empowerment’

ACLU Objects to Closed Meeting (and I question the ideological diversity) of Gibbons’ Education Task Force

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:29 am March 23rd, 2010

You may or may not have heard that the ACLU objected to the Governor’s education task force meeting in private last week (that was the Friday meeting at the Wynn to which I earlier referred here).

The governor’s office disagrees with the ACLU due in part to this AG opinion last week (Hat Tip: Ralston):

I have reviewed the Governor’s Executive Order creating the Blue Ribbon Task Force to advise him on budget issues for the next biennium and to facilitate the application for federal funding pursuant to Race to the Top.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force, as described in the Executive Order, is not a public body subject to the OML. It will be appointed by the Governor (the Governor is not an entity subject to the OML: see §3.02, OML Manual) and secondly, the BRTF will make recommendations only to the Governor. (see §3.04, OML Manual) Committee is subject to OML where parent is a public body and it appoints a committee who is tasked to make recommendations to parent. Such is not the case here.

George H. Taylor

Senior Deputy Attorney General

My question is this:  Why not open the meetings up regardless of the legalities?  What possible reason could there be for keeping these meetings closed?  If the purpose of the panel is to (1) help the state figure out how to competently process its way through the Race to the Top application and (2) come up with ideas to reform our sorry educational system, why can’t the public sit in?

I have other questions, too, some of which the governor’s spokesperson, Dan Burns, answered last week (but not really to my satisfaction, as follows):

Burns said panel members were chosen from “every segment of society” and “every walk of life” and that the panel is not “a political group” but a place for “fresh ideas” that will “make educational reform recommendations to the governor.” I’d really love to believe that – but if new ideas are really what they are after, why is there so little diversity of background and ideology on the panel?

I see one known empowerment school and one charter school advocate, one guy who believes in Florida-style reform (if you did not know it, Florida is kicking all the other states’ butts when it comes to measured improvements over the past decade) and one conservative senator who in the past has spoken in favor of choice via vouchers/scholarships and charter schools (but doesn’t support empowerment).

Why are there no panel members from the Business Educational Alliance for the Children of Nevada (BEACON), NPRI, the Nevada Innovative Coalition for Education (NICE), the Council for a Better Nevada, any of the state’s private schools or anyone repesenting the home-schooling peeps?  We couldn’t even pick 2 or 3 panelists with ties to these groups?

Yet:  we do have a higher ed guy, the superintendent of Nevada’s public schools, the head of Nye County’s public schools, the head of Washoe County’s public schools, the head of Douglas County’s public schools, a former university regent and teachers union endorsed candidate for CD-2 in the last two election cycles, a public school teacher from Clark County, a Washoe County public school teacher, a public school teacher from Lyon County, a Clark County public school principal, the president of the Nevada PTA, and the head of the Nevada teachers union.

Does that list look like people from “every segment of society” and “every walk of life” to you?  I’m not saying there should be NO representation from the public school system, but the ratio looks pretty lopsided.  So, color me skeptical on the whole “fresh ideas” thing.

Governor Gibbons to Announce Blue Ribbon Education Panel

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:43 pm March 14th, 2010

As Flashed by Ralston just now:

Gibbons to announce blue-ribbon education panel headed by Elaine Wynn, Chancellor Dan Klaich

Coming tomorrow.

Legislators of both parties, gamers, union types, superintendents, even the Just Say No to more taxes crowd will have representation among two dozen members. Many usual suspects but some new voices and smooth move in pick of Sonya Horsford, who has better education credentials than her elected official husband.

More Monday.

Just left messages for three active “empowerment school” and/or school voucher advocates here in southern Nevada to see if they have (or know) someone on the panel.  I’m interested because as I’ve been learning about education reform, the issue of Empowerment seems to be a non-partisan goal that both Dems and Republicans can find reason to support.

Will post an update if/when I have one.

Gibbons Touts Edu Reform, Asks for Campaign Donations, Talks Cuts, Takes Criticism

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:39 pm February 2nd, 2010

Ralston posted the full transcript of the morning missive. Gibbons’ four point starter plan:

Adopt a statewide voucher system, give parents choice and control, and give school districts more power over the way their funding is allocated.

Allow more flexibility in school structure and planning by eliminating local government and school district collective bargaining. This will return control of the education system to parents, students, and school boards in the local communities.

Eliminate the elected state Board of Education and replace it with a five member advisory board. The State Superintendent of Education would be hired by, serve at the pleasure of, and report to the Governor.

Streamline K-12 school funding and create empowerment school districts, letting school districts decide where to best put those resources based on their student populations.

And, this afternoon, David Schwartz at the LV Sun quoted Gibbons saying that school districts should prepare for a budget cut of about 10 percent and that:

While the Legislature last session cut funding for school districts, it’s up to local school boards to decide how to implement any cuts — whether through lower pay or less classroom funding. Because of collective bargaining teachers have not taken the 4.6 percent pay cut that state workers have through furloughs.

But Gibbons said he would consider issuing an executive order to ease rules on collective bargaining. And some Republican lawmakers are calling on teachers to take a cut in pay in order to prevent layoffs and lessen the impact of cuts on the classroom.

The State Democratic Party today criticized Gibbons’ plan via a Tweeted link to a press release by Phoebe Sweet (@psweetdem on Twitter):

Gibbons education plan disgraceful, like his administration: