Republican gubernatorial hopeful Brian Sandoval on Tuesday proposed ending teacher tenure, rewarding good schools and teachers with more money, and firing administrators for poor results as part of a plan to reform Nevada’s public schools.
“The education system in Nevada does not measure up and is not providing all our children with the world-class education they deserve,” Sandoval said, noting Nevada has the lowest graduation rate in the nation.
A recent report in Education Week ranked Nevada last of all states in education funding.
Many of the ideas proposed in Sandoval’s nine-page plan are similar to those outlined in March by his Democratic gubernatorial rival Rory Reid.
Both advocate giving parents more choice in the schools their children attend; getting rid of bad teachers; local flexibility; working with the private sector for innovation and financial support; expanding charter and magnate schools; and using technology to expand distant learning opportunities.
And both said Nevada’s education system can be improved without raising taxes.
In recent days, Reid has stepped up his criticism of Sandoval for not releasing his education plan sooner, and claimed Sandoval would lay off thousands of teachers, a charge Sandoval denied.
Sandoval said his blueprint has been a work in progress “long before Rory Reid issued his plan,” and argued it goes farther in regard to vouchers, parental choice and accountability.
“The point of this plan is merit pay” and elimination of longevity pay, he said.
Reid countered Sandoval’s proposal “takes funding away from schools that serve Nevada’s middle-class families and rural communities, delivering ‘extra funds’ to only the very wealthiest areas and subsidizing private school vouchers.”
The Nevada State Education Association, a union that represents 29,000 teachers and other education workers throughout the state, last week came out in support of Reid, even though they disagree with his stance on holding the line on new taxes for public schools.
The group has been fighting for more education funding through a “broad-based tax.”
Among other things, Sandoval said he would tap into $300 million in added room taxes, which was passed by voters in the state’s two largest counties and approved by lawmakers for teacher salaries, to reward high achieving and improving schools.
He also proposed privatizing food services, maintenance and human resource functions to save costs.
Under Sandoval’s proposal, schools would be graded, and those that receive an A or improve by two letter grades will get extra funding. The idea was criticized by Reid’s campaign Tuesday.
“The entire idea of giving schools a grade and tying their funding to those grades is essentially the opposite of what Rory says we should be doing,” Reid spokesman Mike Trask said.
Sandoval’s plan also would offer to transport children in schools that receive a D or F to a better school.
“If they’re losing students, wouldn’t that be a great incentive to improve delivery of education?” he said.
Administrators at schools receiving failing grades two years in a row would be fired.
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