Hitting it big in Clark County?
Dwight Jones gained a rock-star reputation during his time at the helm of Colorado’s state education department. (Among other things, he was the commissioner during enactment of the Rocky Mountain State’s pioneering teacher-evaluation legislation.) Though he hasn’t been in Clark County, NV for long (having been lured to the nation’s fifth largest district in December), he’s already making big moves. Last week, Jones released a dynamite education-reform blueprint, redolent with both familiar reform elements (e.g. performance-based pay and value-added growth modeling) and some cutting-edge proposals. He would, for example, dramatically increase principal autonomy in successful schools, bundling like-performing schools into “performance zones,” each with its own level of support and oversight. “The aim is to achieve more laserlike focus on student performance,” Jones explained. Of course, with education’s hydra-like governance structure (district superintendents work with teacher unions and school boards within the constructs of state and federal legislation), no entity may make unilateral decisions. But that’s part of the appeal and intrigue of Clark County. Jones appears to have a soulmate in Nevada governor Brian Sandoval (though a stick-in-the-mud legislature still poses problems in Carson City). The district's rather abrupt move from growth-and-prosperity to population loss and budget woes makes it even more challenging--and interesting. The slot machine wheels on education reform in Vegas are still spinning but at least a couple of cherries have already shown up in the little window.
|Click to listen to commentary on Jones's blueprint and Clark County from the Education Gadfly Show podcast
“Blueprint for school overhaul unveiled,” by James Haug, Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 27, 2011.“Governor didn’t get much on education,” by Editorial Board, Las Vegas Review-Journal, June 2, 2011.
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