2021 Feb 23 How Do We Fix Our WCSD Schools? Part 1 of a Series

February 23, 2021

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” (John Adams – 2nd President of the United States)


What to Do About Our WCSD Schools?  Facts matter.*

Facts matter, especially when it comes to educating our children.

In the United States, the fact is that we have a public education system that ranks behind 25 other nations.

And if you have a child in Washoe County Schools (or any public school in Nevada), the fact is that your child attends schools that not only rank behind 25 other countries, but ALSO rank behind 48 of the other 49 states.

This column presents the stark facts about how bad our Washoe County School District (WCSD) actually is.  In succeeding columns, we’ll look at some of the causes of these problems and what you can do to help solve them, including: Student Behavior, Special Education, Untapped Ways to Slash Expenditures, the Credit Recovery Program, the School Board, WCSD leadership, Increased Usage of Racially Biased Curriculum, and others.

*The statistics cited in this column come from news articles in the Reno Gazette Journal and from Editorial Projects in Education, and their annual Quality Counts Survey, the national periodicals of record for public education.

Why Should You Care About the State of Our Public Schools?
Because WCSD releases over 4,000 graduates into our county every year, of which the statistics say that over 85% have academic skills so low that they will struggle to live independent, contributing lives, and be adequately informed voters.

National Perspective
• Nevada ranks 49th lowest in the nation for a category called:  “Students Having a Chance For a Successful Future,” a position they’ve held for over a decade.

• Solely on academic achievement, Nevada schools currently rank between 48th and 43rd lowest in the nation (and have ranked between 49th and 50th for many years

Is the Problem Really Not Enough Funding?
For years, WCSD’s Boards and Superintendents have blamed Reno’s (and Nevada’s) low-achieving schools almost entirely on a lack of per-pupil funding, compared to other states.
Nevada’s current spending-per-pupil is $9,400 per pupil per year.
The following is a list of 10 states whose overall School Achievement ranking is HIGHER than Nevada’s, while their per-pupil funding rate is LOWER than – EQUAL to – or within $200-$300 per year of Nevada’s

Nevada – $9.4K (ranked 49th or 50th)
Utah – $7.6K (30th)
Idaho – $7.8K (47th)
Oklahoma – $8.2K (45th)
Arizona – $8.2K (44th)
Mississippi – $8.9K (48th)
Florida – $9.3K (29th)
North Carolina – $9.4K (39th)
Tennessee – $9.5K (36th)
Texas – $9.6K (40th)
Alabama – $9.7K (43rd)

WCSD’s Priority for Spending Its Funding
• Our Students are ranked ahead of practically ZERO other states in what they are learning.
• Our Teachers rank ahead of 21 other states in what they are paid.
Our Superintendent ranks ahead of 29 other states in what she is paid.

Not Prepared for College
The nationally-administered ACT Test (American College Testing) exam is the standard for determining if a high school graduate is ready for college.  Close to 90% of Nevada students (inclucing WCSD) earn ACT scores that would NOT qualify them to be able to pass college-level classes. That means that of the approximately 4,000 college diplomas that WCSD hands out to graduating seniors each year, 3600 of those diplomas are essentially worthless.

Something’s Wrong With Our Graduation Rates
Starting in 2015, while the can’t-be-manipulated ACT scores for WCSD students were going steadily DOWN – the can-be-and-ARE-manipulated graduation rates for WCSD students were going steadily UP!?

There are several reasons for this that will be explained in later columns.

Even On Nevada’s Own Made-up Ratings, Our Schools Are STILL Failing
The Nevada Department of Education has established its own school ranking system to try and “spin” the statistics and prove that our schools are not really doing that badly.

But even by THAT rating system, 39 WCSD schools, or about 37% of our total schools STILL recently rated either 1-2 “Stars” (i.e., the students met either none or almost-none of the minimal state learning goals). Additionally, 5 other WCSD schools were not rated at ALL, including two high schools and two middle schools.

If what I’ve shared is not bad enough,  the statistics I’ve quoted were all recorded BEFORE the Covid-related fears turned our WCSD schools into robotic zoom-teaching.  NO one disagrees that no matter HOW little our students were previously learning, that the extended zoom-teaching has worsened that situation exponentially.

Is It Too Late to Save Our WCSD Public Schools?
NO!  Not if the community will do the following:
• Find out the facts of what’s really going on in our schools, by reading this column and succeeding ones thoroughly

• Speak out and get involved, and succeeding columns will tell you how to do that.

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