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Dwight Jones And The State Of Public Education In Southern Nevada
Dwight Jones And The State Of Public Education In Southern Nevada

AIR DATE: July 18, 2012

With layoffs and understaffing contributing to low teacher morale, Clark County Superintendent Dwight Jones says he thinks teachers have done a laudable job staying focused on children, particularly given the many challenges they face.

 “When you think about some of the things that are changing at the legislature in relationship to evaluation, teachers are still trying to wrap their arms around the common core,” says Jones.

Jones acknowledges that contract talks held throughout the year and subsequent layoffs have also been difficult on teacher morale. He says that as superintendent, he is ultimately responsible for successful governance of the system, but he’s limited by working within a budget.

“I take huge responsibly in cases where I haven’t communicated as well as I should have. What’s difficult for me to take responsibility for is a budget that gets passed, and I have to implement that budget,” says Jones. “I think that’s being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers. I have to have a balanced budget, and I make no bones or apologize for that. I have to work within the criteria that are handed down.”

Jones also echoed the thoughts of exiting Deputy Superintendent Pedro Martinez who believes that Clark County is graduating many students who are not ready for higher education.

When they exit our system, they have to be ready for something post-secondary,” says Jones. “It could be a journeyman’s license; it could be a four-year degree,” says Jones.

But he says it has been a challenge to ascertain exactly what the criteria are in preparing a student for a four-year degree, given that those criteria vary from institution to institution. He thinks that colleges have to take more responsibility to help establish those standards.

“It’s one of the things that the K-12 systems have done and a lot of people don’t totally understand it," says Jones. "We’ve been doing standards for a long time. What does a kid have to know and be able to do in order to ultimately move to the next grade? If you go to higher ed, standards don’t exist. So from one institution to the next it becomes ‘I hope we get it right.’ Hope is not a good strategy. I think we have to get better aligned.”


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    Teacher morale is low in the CCISD is due to the abysmal level of support afforded classroom teachers by their administrators. It also does nothing to improve morale when teachers are spending their own money to buy supplies that the district or parents should rightfully provide and are not reimbursed for those expenses. Those who wish to lay the blame for the abject failure of public education at the feet of our teachers are not only intellectually lazy; they are intellectually dishonest as well. Those thugs in Carson City are also a part of the problem.
    Bob GloverJul 17, 2012 20:38:05 PM
    CCSD's basic problems are 1) very low academic standards, 2) lack of discipline and parental responsibility, and 3) a shockingly huge bureaucracy that has nothing to do with teaching. Regarding the latter, I'd suggest suggest firing 90% of those who do not actually teach students in a classroom, for by and large they are either not working or are doing things that do not need to be done.
    Tom HurstJul 17, 2012 13:04:11 PM
    Dr. Jones, while you may hold many credentials in education and how to function and run a classroom, these credentials does not necessarily mean you are not out of touch with what is going on in our classrooms. It takes more than credentials to understand what we teachers are going through in the classrooms, on our campuses, and within the community.
    Karlana KulsethJul 17, 2012 09:58:16 AM
    You talk about the growth model measuring where students start and finish the year. This is not true. The growth model starts with the end of the previous year and measures to the end of the current year. This does not take into account "summer slide". I had many students showing a significant loss in skills over the summer (20 to 60 words per minute in reading alone), which put them at a deficit from the baseline set for the growth model. But that information is not included in your growth model. Based on the current growth model it only looks like those students were keeping up & doesn't show the catching up accomplished in my classroom from the skill level at which I received them at the beginning of the school year.
    AmyJul 17, 2012 09:49:56 AM
    Ready by exit........ Do you know -- in some middle schools 6th grade students are promoted to 7th grade even though they might have passed only one semester of EITHER Reading or English? teachers are called on the carpet if their students receive D's or F's (for not turning in work)? if a student does NOT hand in work,,, teachers are instructed to give a grade of at least 40% on that assignment? If a student hands in ANY work, they must receive at least 50%?
    LovetaJul 17, 2012 09:48:42 AM
    Karlana Kulseth Faiss Middle School I look forward to seeing you in the upcoming school year, Dr. Jones!
    Karlana KulsethJul 17, 2012 09:48:02 AM
    Yes, it does not cost money to reach out to fellow colleagues in similar grade levels. However, it DOES COST MORALE! Ranking schools against each other does not do anything but make other teachers feel they are not doing enough. Many of us do the same as the next teacher in our classrooms.
    Karlana KulsethJul 17, 2012 09:45:48 AM
    I think Jones needs to be in the classrooms more often as well. If you are making an open invitation for parents to go into the classroom. I give you an open invitation to come into my classroom. This is my fourth year of teaching. I am moving to a new school because I lacked support from my administration the first years of my teaching career. We need BETTER support for new teachers outside of the New Teacher Academy they force new teachers to go through, which are things we learn in college!
    Karlana KulsethJul 17, 2012 09:43:26 AM
    Hi Karlana - thanks for your comments. We were pleased to hear that Dwight Jones is planning on visiting your classroom.We'll pass your contact info along to him. - KNPR's State of Nevada
    MarieJul 17, 2012 15:20:02 PM
    Why are we afraid to hold parents accountable for students achievement? We need to stop supporting bad parenting and sweeping it under the rug.
    BethJul 17, 2012 09:39:33 AM
    I agree. Also, why not make high school students a little more responsible and accountable for their actions in the classroom? I just left a high school that continually gave every chance possible for FREE to students lacking credits. I am a graduate of this district. When we lacked credits, we paid for it. Perhaps if we did not make credit retrieval opportunities free, and instead put a price tag on it, students would be a little more responsible in their part of their education!
    Karlana KulsethJul 17, 2012 09:52:37 AM
    Please ask Mr. Jones to explain the Growth Model. Also, how is it beneficial to rank schools against each other? Is it fair to rank a poor inner city school against a magnet school or a rich school in Summerlin? What does a ranking DO?
    BetsyJul 17, 2012 09:35:33 AM
    ---not only ranking schools,,,,,,,, but it has been reported that all TEACHERS names will be listed with a "growth ranking." Is this true? How about listing all students/parents names with that "growth ranking" number? (Okay, I know that is a joke ---- privacy issues, etc.)
    LovetaJul 17, 2012 09:39:31 AM
    Max is making some good points........ The site administrators make SUCH a difference. We had a couple of brand new ones who were running scared. Consequently, they made life difficult for some teachers. (Arbitrarily, we thought.)
    LovetaJul 17, 2012 09:33:07 AM
    I am in college to be an elementary school teacher. I will graduate next year. Do I need to worry about being hired after I graduate? Teaching those children is my passion, so it is very scary to think that I will not have the opportunity to become a teacher.
    SoonToBeTeacherJul 17, 2012 09:28:17 AM
    Yes, you need to be worried about being hired. (But I don't mean that the way you do.)
    justateacherJul 23, 2012 10:19:09 AM
    So glad you are discussing the "exemplary new teacher" award right now. I take opposition to the incendiary verbiage chosen by Amanda Fulkerson calling these rules "archaic." As a more veteran teacher, I can assure you that ALL the teachers I've spoken to regarding this issue agree that they are MUCH better teachers after several (many) years of experience than they were in the beginning... Many of us FLOUNDERED that first year,,,, just trying to navigate the rules, regs, curriculum, etc.
    LovetaJul 17, 2012 09:24:26 AM
    Incidentally, I trust you will give teachers time to comment on the same issues - and not teachers sent to you by the district.
    justateacherJul 17, 2012 09:13:44 AM
    I had to shut the radio off because this man is so hostile toward teachers that I can't even listen. This is the face of corporatist influence on education.
    justateacherJul 17, 2012 09:11:18 AM
    I agree,,,,,,,,,,,, Dwight, Pedro, and Amanda have been hard to listen to many times,,, but I'm sticking it out right now
    LovetaJul 17, 2012 09:26:59 AM
    Graduation rates are the WRONG metric to use to assess the success of schools. When bureaucrats focus on gaming graduation rates, quality and merit go out the window. A more useful set of measures of effectiveness would be to examine how well graduates are doing at one year, three years, five years...twenty years after graduation. These MOEs would require long term study. Instead, we have the short sighted focus on graduation rates that treats students like widgets coming off of an assembly line, where the goal is just to get them out of the door without regard to quality or MERIT. Politicians or the bureaucrats know that graduation rates can be gamed by foisting problem students off on charter schools, private schools, or labeling marginal students as, Special Ed. Don't ask how many graduated. Ask how well those graduates are doing in the real life tests they encounter post graduation.
    Tyler Jul 17, 2012 09:04:17 AM
    In this current budget situation, how can CCSD justify all of these exuberant salaries such as Amanda Fulkerson - over 130K, Edward Goldman over 190K and this is only a few. Since, Mr. Jones arrived in CCSD he has created more layers of administration than in the past. How are the positions of these individuals and others in CCSD improving education and getting students ready by exit?
    Jenna SmithJul 17, 2012 08:52:07 AM
    thank you, Jenna
    LovetaJul 17, 2012 09:28:23 AM
    Exorbitant salaries... Although those who get them may, indeed be exuberant about their pay! :-) Totally agree that the Administration needs to trim, right along with the rest of the system. The reality is that we have a declining stream of revenue, and ALL branches of government need to adjust to the fiscal reality. We can get only so far with more cuts. It is time to seek creative solutions, like hiring adjunct teachers, and coaches, as well as using more self-directed learning methods. Nobody likes to point to the students, but you just can't soar with eagles when you work with turkeys. Has anyone considered suing Mexico for dumping their kids on our community? Mexico encourages their people to migrate illegally, so they do not have to support their people. What Mexico is doing is an act of war, and the USA should respond by defending our border and demanding compensation from Mexico for what their illegal migration has done to our communities.
    Tyler Jul 17, 2012 12:59:58 PM
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