By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Republican governor candidate Brian Sandoval yesterday released his education plan, calling it a results oriented proposal that would end teacher tenure and the social promotion of students.
The former federal judge, who stepped down from a lifetime appointment to run for governor, also said his plan would be paid for with existing revenues and that no teacher layoffs would be required.
“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. “With our graduation rates the lowest in the nation, it’s time to get serious about reform and challenge the status quo.”
The state teacher’s union called several elements of the plan, such as vouchers and the elimination of tenure, a rehash of old ideas pushed by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons that are not supported by research. The union has endorsed Democrat candidate Rory Reid for governor.
A spokesman for Reid said Sandoval’s plan borrows from Reid’s EDGE education plan released in March with the addition of vouchers, which Reid does not support.
In his nine-page plan, Sandoval said the current performance evaluation system for teachers and principals is out-of-date and rewards endurance over performance. With recent changes to Nevada law requiring the use of student achievement data in evaluations, Sandoval said there is an opportunity “to modernize the entire system in ways that reward the best, inspire the average to improve, and dismiss those who are failing.”
Sandoval said his plan will require a majority of teacher and principal evaluations to be based on student achievement. Salary schedules based on time served and longevity stipends will no longer be allowed.
The plan would end social promotion by requiring any student who is not proficient on the state’s criterion-referenced reading test by the end of the third grade to be held back for focused reading instruction.
Sandoval said he also supports vouchers to allow parents to have access to private schools, but provided no details on how his proposal would operate.
His plan would also allow parents to move their children out of failing public schools. For schools receiving a “D” or “F” under the state accountability plan, local districts will be required to offer transportation to another school, including schools operated by the district or charter schools located in the same county.
Sandoval said he will also revive legislation killed by special interests in prior legislative sessions to create a Nevada Charter School Institute. The institute’s charge will be to issue charters for the operation of additional public schools that operate outside the constraints of the 17 local school districts.
Other elements of Sandoval’s plan would require schools to receive a letter grade. Schools that get A’s or improve by two letter grades will get extra funds. If a school fails two years in a row, the administrators will be replaced.
“It’s time for a fundamental change from the ground up and the top down,” Sandoval said. “We must fight for our kids with focused accountability, real consequences, expanded opportunities for choice, and more local control over funding.”
Lynn Warne, president of the Nevada State Education Association, said Nevada’s schools are in crisis, rated last among the states in a recent survey for the quality of its public education, and Sandoval’s plan won’t bring improvement to public education.
“We’ve got a real crisis on our hands,” she said. “We’re going to need to address the funding issue at some point. This political posturing and re-baked Gibbons reform ideas didn’t fly in the past and won’t fly again.”
Reid campaign spokesman Mike Trask said Sandoval’s plan is clearly an effort to back away from a budget-balancing plan he proposed several months ago that would have laid off hundreds of teachers and cut funding for smaller class sizes.
“He clearly wants people to forget about that plan,” Trask said.
Some of the plan appears to borrow from proposals pushed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, where money was taken from failing schools and given to those that didn’t really need the additional funding, he said.
Reid, who released his “EDGE” education plan in March, said his plan would transition every school in Nevada to an EDGE school where community-based decision making would lead to improved student performance. EDGE stands for Economic Development through Great Education.
Reid spokesman Mike Trask on Sandoval plan:
Trask says Sandoval plan borrows failed ideas from former Fla Gov. Jeb Bush:
Teacher Union President Lynn Warne says Sandoval plan a rehash of failed ideas: