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WCSD Moving Forward (Opinion)


Washoe County School District administration building. Image: Carla O’Day.

Submitted by Paul White

Paul White

The WCSD School Board and our community need to fully move-on from former superintendent Traci Davis’ termination.  Davis is gone, but our schools’ lowest-ranking in the nation still remains.  As does our 11th year in a row budget deficit, and the fact that over 80% of WCSD grads don’t qualify for college level classes, Everyone’s focus should be on finding a qualified superintendent candidate who supports, and is capable of implementing the following needed changes that address current problems. 

1) Get rid of the current “Restorative Discipline (aka No Accountability)  System.”   Allowing incorrigible student behavior destroys teacher morale, creates a school environment that breeds violence, and harms ALL students’ ability to learn and practice workplace-acceptable behaviors.

Replace it with:  

Firm, fair accountable discipline for ANY student behavior that disrupts learning, disrespects staff, destroys property, violates the law, or threatens campus safety.

2) Get rid of  the “credit recovery” program as a way to increase graduation rates.  It’s a total sham that cheats students of needed education, and devalues the in-depth curriculum of semester-long classes.

Replace it with:

• Mandatory weekly parent reports, conferences, and daily Zero Periods for ANY student making less than a “C” in ANY class. 

3) Institute a new Board Policy for graduation requirements, using the community college entry exam as the standard that 12th graders must pass to receive a WCSD diploma.  Over 80% of WCSD grads DON’T qualify for the most basic college level English and Math classes.  This would eliminate WCSD’s ability to manipulate curriculum standards and  graduation rates, and restore worth to currently worthless WCSD diplomas.

4) Eliminate the Chief of Staff position, and four of the six Field Superintendent positions.  This would be a good start for down-sizing WCSD’s unaffordable administrative bloat, that exceeds that of any comparably-sized districts. 

5) Get rid of the lack of transparency that prevents parents, media, and School Board members from making unannounced school visits that reveal what campus and classroom environments are really like. 

Replace it with: 

• Require EVERY Board member to make at least one unannounced school visit per month to classrooms of their choosing, and report their findings at Board Meetings. 

• Expect ALL parents to spend at least one school day per semester shadowing their child throughout their day.

• Allow ANY responsible community member to schedule unannounced visits to ANY school or classroom of their choosing.  The WCSD argument that unannounced visits from outsiders jeopardize school order and safety is false.  It’s a smokescreen to hide the current chaotic situation on our school campuses. Most school violence is perpetrated by troubled students enrolled in that school, whose warning signs were ignored by school staff.  Having a steady flow of “outside eyes” visiting campuses and observing potential troubling situations, would improve the safety of the school environment by making school staff more pro-active.

6) Require EVERY school administrator  to teach a MINIMUM of 3 class periods per week.  

A non-teaching educator is an oxymoron. 

Whether administrators filled in for various teachers, or created their own elective classes, this practice would greatly improve teacher morale, and improve teachers’ relationships with their administrators.  

7) Implement mandatory drug testing for ALL students participating in extra- curricular activities, and voluntary drug-testing for any student whose parents request it.

It’s legal – it’s necessary – it transforms school climates – and it saves lives.

• Open a dialogue with the Teachers’ Union regarding a contract provision for mandatory drug-testing of all school staff.  You have to drug test to work in a warehouse, drive a truck, sell lumber, etc.  Why would schools not want to ensure at LEAST the same standards of clear-minded, law-abiding behavior by the adults who spend more time with our children than their parents do?

8) Direct teachers to vigorously and impartially instruct students about BOTH sides of ALL current events, without providing ANY indication of the teachers’ personal opinions on these same issues.  Great schools challenge students to think deeply about controversial ideas and events, but avoid indoctrination.    

9) Appoint a committee to explored alternatives to the exorbitant cost of school-sponsored athletic teams, and the overall lack of fitness on the part of students and staff.

 Privately funded club sports long ago surpassed school-sponsored sports teams in importance and quality.  Parents of the relatively few students who choose to participate in team sports – rather than schools – should pay for their own children’s participation in these activities. The District could save vast amounts of money in operational and personnel costs by focusing on education rather than inter-scholastic sports. 

Schools could maintain inexpensive calisthenics areas on campuses, instead of ultra-costly stadiums, gymnasiums, etc.  All students AND staff could participate in community-building, intense daily workouts, in lieu of antiquated zero-yield PE classes.  Overall campus health would improve.  Chronic student and staff absences caused by physical inactivity would diminish, along with their related costs, and the district would save 30% or more on new school construction.

The new superintendent that WCSD needs would embrace ALL these ideas, and bring in many more. 

Paul White runs Quality of Life, Reno, a self-proclaimed “nonprofit, community effort to improve Reno’s Quality of Life.” He also ran Reno Elections last election cycle.

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