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Exiting CCSD Deputy Superintendent Martinez talks accomplishments, challenges
Exiting CCSD Deputy Superintendent Martinez talks accomplishments, challenges

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AIR DATE: July 6, 2012

Pedro Martinez believes Clark County is on track to have the highest graduation rate in the school district’s history

As Deputy Superintendent Pedro Martinez ends his one-year tenure at the Clark County School District, he points to higher graduation rates as a key achievement.

"When we started the year, we were on track for a 52 percent graduation rate," Martinez says. "As of June we're at 65 percent, and as of the end of the summer we could be as close as 70 percent. For the first time our state could be at the national average."

This year, the Clark County School District saw improvement on math and reading in state standardized tests.

Martinez is leaving to become superintendent of the Washoe County School District. He points to programs like "Reclaim Your Future" in which CCSD teachers and administrators went door-to-door to persuade dropouts to return, communicated a "we care about you" message to students.

"Our main goal was to change the attitudes of ourselves, frankly," Martinez says. “I think it's unacceptable for children to stop coming to school and we just think it's OK. ..I applaud our principals and our teachers and counselors because they stepped up and said 'you know, that's right, this isn't OK.'"

As he heads to a new position upstate, Martinez leaves behind a school district that graduates students who aren't prepared for college.

"What we teach in 12th grade English and in Math (at CCSD), is very different than what is expected at the university or the community college level," Martinez says.

CCSD is also struggling with large class sizes and low teacher morale. In June, 400 teachers were given pink slips, one of many cuts the district has implemented to maneuver through budget shortfalls.

 Martinez acknowledges chronic underfunding is an issue in Nevada.

"On a per pupil basis, Clark County spends $8K per student. Compare that to New York - New York spends over $20K per student. Boston spends well over $20K per student. DC has, per pupil, the highest spending, well over $25K per student."

Martinez has seen first-hand the difference that kind of budget can make in the lives of pupils in other states.

"They have more staff on the ground; their class sizes are smaller so they have more teachers. They have more coaches to work with teachers, literacy and math coaches and they have intervention teachers to work with children."

In Clark County, he says, all of that work falls to the teachers.

When he becomes superintendent of the Washoe County School District, Martinez along with CCSD Superintendent Dwight Jones will represent some 90% of public school students in Nevada. For this reason, Martinez believes they will have a significant voice in the Nevada Legislature when it comes to school budget issues.

"I'm looking forward to working with Dwight (Jones) as a superintendent at Washoe. How do we change the conversation at a state level about the investment in education?"

 

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COMMENTS:
It's absolutely stunning to hear Mr. Martinez talk about being responsible for higher graduation rates yet at the same time acknowledging high remediation rates for those same students. What exactly does that accomplish for the students? I beg to differ with Mr. Martinez on his assertion that retaining students is not good for the student. Is it good for a student to graduate from high school with poor reading and math skills? I taught in New York City prior to moving to Las Vegas where I teach 5th grade. In NYC you are expected to pass the state test. If you don't you are retained. Scores are provided for teachers before the school year ends. Every year my students arrive without the basic math skills (multiplication) they should have learned in 3rd grade. I spend a lot of time trying to help them catch up. What I have not been able to understand is why my students take the state exams every year and move on to the next grade before their scores arrive. What a disservice to the children of CCSD. What is the purpose of all this testing if it is not used in some way to determine whether a student is ready to move to the next grade?
LynnJul 3, 2012 11:03:30 AM
Another non-answer. What a surprise. Good luck, Reno.
Mike LandisJul 3, 2012 09:58:24 AM
Mr. Martinez did a great job dodging the question about cuts to administration. Don't let him off the hook. How is it that CCSD can afford $2 million for a communications (read: propaganda) department? How is it that Dwight Jones' secretary makes six figures but teachers, who actually accomplish the mission of the district, are ridiculed for making $35K?
Mike LandisJul 3, 2012 09:52:41 AM
Please remind Mr. Martinez that what the teachers won in arbitration was NOT a raise.
BetsyJul 3, 2012 09:47:31 AM
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