Las Vegas Sun

May 21, 2019

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The Turnaround:

Discussion: School District’s top officials sit down with the Sun

Turnaround Schools

Leila Navidi

Dwight Jones, superintendent of the Clark County School District, from left, Carolyn Edwards, president of the Board of Trustees, and Pedro Martinez, the deputy superintendent, participate in a roundtable discussion with the Las Vegas Sun in Las Vegas Thursday, August 25, 2011.

Round-table Discussion: Turnaround Schools

School District leaders Dwight Jones, Superintendent; Pedro Martinez, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction; Florence Barker, Turnaround Leader; and Carolyn Edwards, School Board President; sit down with reporters Dave Berns and Paul Takahashi to discuss turnaround schools, challenges of the upcoming school year and the Sun's ongoing project, "The Turnaround: Inside Clark County Schools."

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.


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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

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