Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Superintendent Dwight Jones, School Board President Carolyn Edwards, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Pedro Martinez and Turnaround Leader Florence Barker recently sat down with reporters Dave Berns and Paul Takahashi to discuss the turnaround schools, the challenges of the upcoming school year and the Sun’s ongoing project, “The Turnaround: Inside Clark County Schools.” Below are excerpts of that discussion. To hear more of what they said, watch the video.
DWIGHT JONES, SUPERINTENDENT
“We had some schools that were certainly making progress, but we also knew we equally had a lot of schools where we were going to have to intervene and think in a different way.
“We’re going to have to leave what we know. Teachers will accept accountability, they just want accountability in a system that’s fair.”
CAROLYN EDWARDS, SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT
“We had to focus a lot of our attention on just making sure we didn’t have hugely overcrowded schools. We created a gigantic building program that built schools on time, under budget, 12 to 14 schools a year. During that high-growth period some things got put on a back burner. The things that got put on the back burner are things that we’re now putting on the front burner. Now we have this opportunity to focus some very serious attention on achievement.
“While we give lip service to the value of education, we don’t follow that up with actions. We have a little battle going on within our state about the value of education and the value of little government and we’re losing. Education is losing the battle at the moment.”
PEDRO MARTINEZ, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OF INSTRUCTION
“This is one of the few states I’ve seen that hasn’t figured out that education has to be the primary driver for the economy. They haven’t made that connection. Talk is cheap. When it comes to actions, when it comes to how the state has set priorities around funding, that’s where you see where the key priorities are.
“In the old structure we didn’t have enough conversations across different levels of schools. So we know that graduation doesn’t start in the high schools. It starts much earlier. There were disconnects between our elementary schools, our middle schools and our high schools. To look at a high school it’s a little bit late.”
FLORENCE BARKER, TURNAROUND LEADER
“The funding is absolutely helping right now to turn around schools because it’s allowing us to provide extended learning time for students, additional staff and some job-embedded professional development that can enhance the quality of education.
“These are drastic changes ... Turning a school around is a lot of work.”
— Compiled by Aida Ahmed