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Students protest district’s plan to reorganize schools

Teachers will have to reapply to keep the same position next year

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Justin M. Bowen

Students rally outside Chaparral High School on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, in protest of the district’s plans to reorganize the school.

Updated Wednesday, March 9, 2011 | 5:22 p.m.

School protest

KSNV coverage of protest over reorganization at Chaparral High School, March 9, 2011.

Chaparral High School Rally

Students rally outside Chaparral High School on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, in protest of the district's plans to reorganize the school. Launch slideshow »

Map of Chaparral

Chaparral

3850 Annie Oakley Dr., Las Vegas

A Clark County School District plan to reorganize five schools drew the ire of hundreds of students Wednesday at Chaparral High School.

The students held a protest in front of the school shortly after classes ended on the day they learned the school’s principal and many of its teachers would leave the school after the current year.

Chaparral is one of five schools the district has decided to reorganize using a federal stimulus grant aimed at improving the lowest performing schools.

District officials Wednesday morning outlined the plan to reorganize Chaparral, Mojave High School, Hancock Elementary and two other schools where staff had yet to be notified. Late Wednesday afternoon the district said Western High School was also part of the grant program and an announcement on a fifth school was expected soon.

As part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, Nevada received $9 million to improve schools. The state identified schools that were eligible for the School Improvement Grants, and the district chose the five schools that would participate.

The district will apply for the $7 million it is eligible for from the state, with the other $2 million going to other districts.

The federal grant requires the district to transform the school in one of four ways. The district chose a method that includes removing all of the school’s staff members and making them reapply for their jobs, with a maximum of 50 percent being rehired.

The remaining staff will be able to apply for positions at other schools, School Board President Carolyn Edwards said.

“Nobody is losing their job and nobody is being fired,” she said.

Three of the five Clark County schools will also get new principals, Edwards said. The program allows principals to be retained if he or she has been at the school for less than three years. Chaparral’s principal will be replaced, but Western’s principal will not.

The idea is to create a fresh start at the schools and to allow principals to build a united team to focus on improvement, Edwards said. The principals will then decide how to use the grant money for programs at the school.

“It’s the right thing to do. It’s time to recognize that some of the schools need more support than they are getting,” Edwards said. “I think it’s going to be a benefit for the whole school and it’s certainly going to be a benefit for the students.”

But many students at Chaparral were opposed to the idea of losing their principal and favorite teachers.

“I don’t think it’s fair that they want to punish our teachers and our principal for something that’s not the teacher’s fault,” 16-year-old junior Brittoni King said.

The protest “shows how much we support our teachers and administrators, and how much we want them to stay,” she added.

King’s mother, Brenda Roney, agreed: “I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think you should grade teachers on their students’ test scores, and that’s basically what they’re doing. They are punishing the teachers because the students have low test scores.”

Much of the Chaparral protest was focused on supporting Principal Kevin McPartlin. Students credited him with improving the school and increasing spirit at Chaparral.

“I like the principal,” Roney said. “Every time I’ve had a problem, he’s handled it for me.”

But not everyone agreed the changes are the wrong approach to improvement.

Senior Erick Rodriguez, 17, watched the protest from a distance with friends. He said the protest was bringing negative attention to Chaparral.

“How come they can’t show it on their test scores or on their grades?” Rodriquez said. “I think it’s right that they are going to get rid of some of the teachers. I find it dumb that (protesters) are doing this … I know half of the students and they ditch classes and everything, but they come to this.”

Junior Tiara Smith worried that if certain teachers leave, so will some of the students.

“I think it’s going the wrong way because some of the students like their teachers, and if they’re gone they won’t come,” she said.

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  1. Today's lesson is Socioeconomics, boys & girls...

    Where on the map do you find these schools?

    Verrry good!!!

    Now, I am quite sure the TEACHERS, as a GROUP, along with the school principals, are SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for the lack of a favorable educational outcome for the failing urchins... of course, they aren't ALL failing; so the SUCCESSFUL students surely MUST be complete abberations...
    Musta hadda lernt it all by themselves!
    Yes! Fire the whole LOT of them! That'll lern em'!!!

  2. If these "Students" spent more time showing up for class, studying and not disrupting classes they would not have to stand outside in protest.

    Until parents teach their kids that education is important in your life nothing is going to change.

    To many kids miss to many classes and people wonder why they don't learn anything.

  3. Teach them how to pray and they will be rewarded in the next life - this one was just a hiccup.

  4. I am a very PROUD student at Chaparral. I can thank my intelligence to my FANTASTIC teachers that the school district are firing. I have been going to Chaparral since my freshman year and all I have seen is progress. We are a community within our school. It KILLS me, just like the other hundred students who protested, to see our teachers be torn apart. We are completely underestimated because of the population of students that don't care. Our school is one like no other. There are a few sections at lunch that are divided by race, but we don't have the clique attitudes towards one another. We are "chill," for the most part. I really think that people need to step back and look at the greater picture. This "reorganization" of Chaparral will just ruin the progress that Mr. McPartlin, our teachers, and ourselves as students who care, have made.

  5. @Jackiebrown Thank you for the support, but next time, don't we so quick to judge us. You were so quick to stereotype our school you didn't see what we actually are. Because of Chaparral I have gotten the opportunity to have my entire college education paid for. I am going to be a high school math teacher because of the AMAZING teachers that have changed my life forever. When this many students step up, take their own time to organize a rightful protest(we gathered AFTER school), and show how they feel because they aren't treated properly, you shouldn't stereotype.

  6. My parents have always been involved, but regardless of them being involved or not, it is my education, my future. It is on me. I am extremely blessed to have parents that have raised me to be very level headed. I have also been blessed with amazing teachers and other students who have been with me the entire way. The way people are reacting to the way we are reacting is sickening. We are doing what our Constitution allows us to do. We are standing up for everything we believe in. I think people should be worried if we WEREN'T acting like this. In that case, things need to change.

  7. It is with great concern that I say, "I hope and pray CCSD's plan works and is extremely successful," because it is certainly uprooting many lives and very upsetting to the public it serves. May God be with you/us all!

  8. @Roseanrose Have you ever heard of FAPE?

  9. @Roseanrose
    EXCUSE me, our teachers are not "brainwashing" us. We decided to fight for what we believe in BEFORE we talked to them. They had NOTHING to do with our rightful protest, not riot. There is a huge difference between the two. Our teachers and staff have made a difference in our lives. Because of this, we are fighting for the jobs they DESERVE.

  10. The definition of a riot, "a noisy, violent public disorder caused by a group or crowd of persons, as by a crowd protesting against another group, a government policy, etc., in the streets. "

    The definition of a protest, "an expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid."

    We were neither violet or disordered. You might want to think about how describe what we were doing.

  11. Couple of thoughts on this issue:

    First, I don't see how anyone thinks that cutting 50% of the staff at any of these high schools is going to have any effect on the test scores and educational outcomes of any of the students at these schools. Where do you think the other 50% of teachers that don't get retained are going to come from? They won't come from the schools that are meeting their "quotas," but from the other two schools that are being forced to dump half of their staff. The teachers dumped from Mojave will end up at Western or Chap; the teachers dumped from Western will end up at Mojave or Chap. Even if one truly believed that the teachers are the problem, this does nothing but shuffle the "bad teachers" from one school to another.

    My second thought is that it is pretty ridiculous to evaluate teachers based completely on test scores. If a student comes to class most days and if that student pays attention to the teacher while in class, that teacher has access to each student for a little less than an hour each day. Some students seek extra help after school, but most do not. The majority of the day for these students is spent elsewhere, meaning the one hour a math teacher has with a student is a small fraction of everything that student experiences. Not to mention the fact that all of these schools mentioned would fall into the "low-socioeconomic status" category, which is a much better indicator of how students will perform. You will not see Green Valley, Coronado or similar schools on this list, and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that students attending those schools have built in advantages that those attending the Mojave's of the world will never have.

    Third, let's apply the logic behind this move to another industry. Let's take the dental field, for example. We can all agree that there are good dentists and not-so-good dentists. Let's judge the dentists on the number of cavities their patients have when they come in. The dentist may only see each patient once or twice a year, but cavities are surely an indicator of how well they are doing their job, right? I'm willing to bet that using this form of evaluation, we'd probably find a stark contrast between dental offices in "rich" areas and dental offices in "poor" areas. The point is that you can't take one aspect of a field that is made up of multiple influences and factors and place all of the blame on one, single entity.

  12. I've often thought if the focus was on rewarding those who do well, rather than punishing those who do poorly, that more students and parents might take an active interest in the education of the youth. For example, what if some sort of tax break was offered to parents who have children in schools that are on the honor roll? I'm not going to pretend I know what type of break it should be or how the economics of it all would work out, but maybe if parents knew they'd have the opportunity to get back a little more on their tax returns, they might push their students to show up to school more often and actually do some work.

  13. I agree azsk8fan that we shouldn't HAVE to offer incentives for parents to do their jobs and instill the importance of education in their children. However, like improve stated, it is painfully obvious that what is going on now isn't working. And in reality, offering incentives for parents to make their children focus more on schooling probably won't make a huge difference for a lot of students, but maybe it will for some.

    Its easy to sit back and say things like kick them out of school; only worry about the ones who make an effort; school shouldn't be mandated, but that will only compound the problem of uneducated and unprepared youth entering adulthood. Ideally, I'd like to see something similar to what they do in Europe. Everyone receives schooling through 8th grade or thereabouts and then every student takes a test. The students who do well on the test go on and further their education to prepare for higher-level thinking jobs and the others move on to apprenticeships and/or trade schools to prepare them to enter the workforce in a variety of professions.

    If you haven't seen it yet, go rent "Idiocracy." It's a comedy that depicts the de-evolution of America. It sad that I can actually see it happening.