The only thing more annoying these days than Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” song is the incessant bleating by Nevada’s teachers union that education is underfunded and, therefore, we have to penalize the state’s job providers by slapping them with a new “margins tax.”
What a crock.
And to prove it, just look at the evidence provided by a small elementary school in the blue-collar section of Henderson — C.T. Sewell — which in the span of only about five years has gone from a low-achieving two-star school to a high-achieving five-star school, exploding quite a few union-fueled myths in the process.
n The school building itself is more than 50 years old, the oldest active school building of its kind in all of Clark County. So much for the notion that kids must have brand-spanking-new buildings to get a solid education.
n Because of the popularity of the school with parents who want a quality education for their kids (with some actually lying about their residency just to get in!), many classes are technically “overcrowded.” Yet all the kids have desks; all the kids have books. And they’re getting a better education than kids in neighboring schools with smaller class sizes. Go figure.
n We constantly hear from the union that the only way to attract good teachers is to pay them more. Yet Sewell has been able to attract some of the best darned teachers in the entire state despite paying them — get this — no more money than other teachers are being paid.
n The student population is not white, upper middle class. Seventy-two percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunches. And many come from broken homes or whose parents are addled by substance abuse, chronic unemployment or worse. So much for the ridiculous notion that you can’t teach poor kids.
To be fair, the school was designated as an “empowerment school” a few years ago. However, school leaders tell me that while the little bit of extra money they receive is helpful, the real benefit of being an empowerment school is the greater autonomy to make operational and spending decisions independently from the home office bureaucrats at central planning.
Unfortunately, now that the school is performing at such a high educational level it’s at risk of losing that little bit of extra funding. Yes, in the bizarro world of public education, the kids at C.T. Sewell could well be penalized for being too successful.
Yeah, that makes perfectly stupid sense.
As for the teachers union, it — not lack of money — is the cancer that’s destroying public education and killing our children’s futures. So instead of schools being “gun-free” zones we should make then “union-free” zones. So let it be written; so let it be done.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass-roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.muthstruths.com.