Las Vegas Sun

November 28, 2015

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Legislature 2013:

Teach for America money clears Senate, but prospects in Assembly uncertain

A program to set aside $1 million a year to recruit 50 teachers for high-risk schools in Clark County easily passed the Senate 20-1 on Friday.

But one opponent says it may face trouble in the Assembly.

The money will be allocated to the nonprofit Teach for America, which says contributions from foundations, corporations and individuals will bring in an additional $4 million a year.

Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, who works for the Clark County School District, said the young teachers are enthusiastic and will be placed at low-performing schools.

But she said she was concerned about the preparation these teachers have. There is not enough time for them to be trained by professional teachers, said Woodhouse, D-Las Vegas.

She also raised concerns that the teachers spend their two-year stint in Nevada and then return to their home states.

The nonprofit corporation maintains these teachers enroll in the certification program through a UNLV partnership and take required methods coursework. And most of these teachers get their master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction from UNLV while teaching.

The lone no vote was cast by Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who said the state shouldn’t be telling the Clark County School District to enter into this contract. The School District should be able to decide on its own whether to hire Teach for America teachers, he said.

“It’s not our job to be telling them what to do,” Segerblom said. “And there’s lots of arguments on how long they are there and whether to pay our teachers more in the at-risk schools.”

“I’ve heard there’s a big fight on the other side” in the Assembly, where Senate Bill 517 is being sent.

During testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, a representative of the teachers union opposed the bill, saying the money should be spent statewide for teacher development. The union backs Teach for America but says the money should be allocated to education in other programs.

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