The Carson City Library will host a “Virtual Read-Out” during Banned Books Week, bringing together our community in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information.

Carson City Library will host a “Virtual Read-Out” during Banned Books Week, bringing together our community in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Carson City Library’s “Virtual Read-Out” will take place on three separate days: Sunday, Sept. 27, 2 pm-4 pm; Monday, Sept. 28, 11 am-1 pm; and a special read-out on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 6 pm to 8 pm, with bestselling author Ellen Hopkins reading from her own challenged books.

The community is invited to participate in the virtual read-out by visiting the library during the scheduled events. Participants will select a passage from one of the targeted titles (held in reserve for this occasion) and read aloud from the book. A videographer will record the reading and ultimately the recordings will be uploaded to the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out YouTube channel that has been dedicated to proclaiming the virtues of the freedom to read. The Read-Out will take place in the Library’s Digitorium.

Local “read-outs” — a continuous reading of banned or challenged books-has been a practice since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982. Libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs and this year Carson City Library has promoted the event with a Public Service Announcement, filmed and produced by Nevada Photo Source.

The 55 second PSA features Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga, and Carson City Sheriff Kenneth Furlong. Justice Saitta read from the Dr. Seuss classic, “Hop on Pop”, while Superintendent Erquiaga read from Jeannette Walls memoir, “The Glass Castle”, and Sheriff Furlong read a passage from “The Working Poor: Invisible in America”, written by Pulitzer Prize winner David K. Shipler. The PSA can be viewed by visiting the Carson City Library Facebook page and can also be seen below.

Banned Books Week reminds Americans not to take the freedom to read for granted. Since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom has received reports of 9,500 attempts to remove books deemed by some as inappropriate. Is your favorite book safe? To participate in the Virtual Read-out please contact Andrea Moore atAMoore@carson.org or call her at 775 283-7593.

Visit www.bannedbooksweek.org for more information.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; the Freedom to Read Foundation; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

“Your Knowledge and Discovery Place”, Carson City Library, open seven days a week, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, is located at the corner of Roop and Washington Streets. For more information call 775 887-2244 or checkout our website at carsoncitylibrary.org.

In Nevada Education reality worse than numbers show

It’s no secret Nevada schools are doing poorly, “remaining at the bottom of all those lists,” but that’s not the entire picture, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga on Wednesday.

The truth is even worse than the statistics would have you believe, he added.

Student scores on state proficiency tests for 2013 show elementary schools average more than 70 percent of fourth-graders reading at grade level. About the same percentage test as proficient in math.

However, the National Assessment of Educational Progress tells a much bleaker story, reporting that only a third of Nevada fourth-graders are adequate in math. Only 27 percent of state fourth-graders are reading as they should, according to the annual exams commonly called the Nation’s Report Card.

The nationally administered test — also given in eighth grade — is a truer indicator of whether students are on track for college and career, said Erquiaga, in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s editorial Board.

“We’re not being honest in our historic reporting of where we are, and we’re certainly not being prepared or ready for where we’re going,” he said.

The impact can be seen among college-bound students. According to state education officials, a third of in-state college students need remedial courses to be ready for college-level courses, such as English. For these courses, students still pay but earn no college credit, merely preparing them for college-level English.

“They have to retake what we (high schools) were supposed to teach them,” Erquiaga said.

Again, the reality is starker. The state tracks its college remediation rate only by the number of in-state students who enroll in college courses.

However, many students take college placement tests but end up not pursuing a degree. If they are factored in, about 50 percent of in-state college freshmen are placed in remedial courses, according to Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

“Half of the graduates from Nevada have to, sort of, start over when they arrive at an institution of higher learning,” Erquiaga said. “They now have to pay for what we, the taxpayers, have already paid for.”

That spells disaster for Nevada’s workforce, he said. Research suggests that in five years, 65 percent of Nevada jobs will require a postsecondary certificate or college degree, he said. Only 30 percent of Nevada’s current workforce has obtained any kind of degree or certification after high school.

“That’s where we find ourselves, where we are,” said Erquiaga, who is ending his first year as chief of Nevada public schools with a massive effort on his hands.

The Nevada Department of Education is replacing current state tests and academic standards, morphing itself from a “filing cabinet” in Carson City to an entity that will hold schools accountable for their failures, he said. “Currently, there is no accountability. All we do is hold up a report card (for each school).”

Changes will start in the 2014-15 school year, “re-setting every expectation,” said Erquiaga, describing how Nevada schools are implementing new standards for what students are expected to know and replacing state tests to reflect those standards.

But without consequences for falling short of these standards and tests, they’re no different than the report card, “just a list,” he said.

Any spending proposal that Erquiaga presents to the state in the next few months for the 2015 Legislature has to come with repercussions for schools that spend and don’t show success.

“What will happen if the (performance) numbers don’t change? Do they lose the money? What has to change?” Erquiaga said.

But accountability is coming by way of a federally mandated evaluation system for teachers and school administrators that Nevada has decided will rely on student performance statistics for 40 percent of their job evaluations.

“We want to champion the champions,” said Elaine Wynn, president of the State Board of Education, “but get rid of the ones who’ve been failing our kids for decades.”

The evaluations have proven more difficult than planned because two-thirds of teachers either don’t teach material or students tested by state exams, causing officials to stall implementation another year.

“This is not easy work. This isn’t for the fainthearted,” said Wynn, noting that 35,000 high school seniors annually leave the Nevada public school system. “We lose generations of kids as we fuss around with it.”

But it needs to be done right and fairly, or it will be just another long-winded effort “for naught,” she said.

Contact Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @TrevonMilliard.

Two accused in Las Vegas school cheating scandal reinstated

 

State School Superintendent Dale Erquiaga responded Monday to critics who say his investigrquiagaation of alleged proficiency test cheating at Kelly Elementary School was built on “manipulated and manufactured” evidence to prove a “predetermined outcome.”

The Nevada Department of Education “remains committed to a fair and appropriate investigation of this and any other testing irregularity,” Erquiaga wrote in an email to 65 of Nevada’s top education officials and elected leaders, including Clark County Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky.

But even as Erquiaga moved to defend his investigation, Skorkowsky decided to reinstate Kelly Principal Patricia Harris and Assistant Principal Steven Niemeier, who have been on paid suspension for the past four months, district spokeswoman Michelle Booth said.

Neither Harris nor Niemeier could be reached for comment Monday.

Niemeier will become an assistant principal at another school; Harris will be reassigned to another position yet to be determined, Booth said.

Skorkowsky had suspended the two immediately after Erquiaga released his April 16 report alleging cheating on standardized tests at the school, admonished the two school leaders in writing and advised Skorkowsky to take “disciplinary action” against them.

Erquiaga’s email and the reinstatements come in the wake of a Sunday Review-Journal report on flaws in the state investigation, many of which were also covered in a highly critical 18-page analysis by the union that represents Clark County School District administrators.

On Monday Stephen Augspurger, executive director of the union, also emailed Skorkowsky and other state education leaders as well as Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has discretion for hiring and firing Erquiaga.

Augspurger criticized Erquiaga’s 17-month Kelly investigation as “fundamentally flawed” and dismissed Erquiaga’s accusations as baseless.

His union’s report said the state found little concrete evidence and failed to identify any culprits.

Erquiaga in April concluded with “no doubt” that Kelly staff members changed student test answers to improve the number of students considered proficient in 2011-12.

He based the conclusion on the unusually high number of erasures on student tests and the fact that several individuals had access to answer sheets.

“I have no doubt that … student answer sheets were altered by one or more adults in the system,” Erquiaga said in April.

The “shoddy and haphazard” investigation caused “significant and irreparable harm” to Kelly students and staff, who were called cheaters “without the requisite evidence being provided,” Augspurger wrote in his mass email.

Augspurger noted that he wanted to send the union’s report to Erquiaga and Skorkowsky in July.

He met with Skorkowsky about the report, but Erquiaga refused to meet, saying the investigation was still ongoing.

“If he (Erquiaga) thinks his report was correct, why refuse to talk — refuse to meet?” Augspurger said.

Erquiaga and Skorkowsky cited the ongoing investigation in declining interviews on the subject last week, though Erquiaga was more open in his Monday response.

“Although the investigation remains open, I wanted you to have some additional information,” Erquiaga wrote, noting that he will forward Augspurger’s report to the Attorney General and to education department investigators he personally supervised.

“Based on all the evidence I previously reviewed (much of which remains confidential), I am convinced our findings and determinations were appropriate,” Erquiaga wrote.

“I don’t know how one can keep that opinion,” Augspurger told the Review-Journal on Monday.

Contact Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279. Follow @TrevonMilliard on Twitter.

Nevada Releases Statewide School Rankings

nevada flunkA quarter of Nevada’s 604 public schools got lower grades this year compared with last year in a statewide ranking system.

But State Superintendent Dale Erquiaga says that’s because Nevada is demanding more from its students.

The number of five-star schools dropped from 112 during the 2011-12 school year to 82 this past year. The number of four- and three-star schools also dropped, while the number of one- and two-star schools climbed from 119 to 146.

Policy changes play a role. State officials pointed out that high schoolers are now required to score a 60 percent on a math test to graduate, up from 48 percent.

But analysts tell the Review-Journal attendance also appeared to be worse year-over-year, and students aren’t improving at the rate they should be.

To see where your school ranked, click here.

Governor Brian Sandovals’ crony Dale Erquiaga appointed to new state superintendent of schools

Dale Erquiaga, Gov. Brian SandovalEver notice Nevada is always rated one of the worst States for education in the Nation?

While he lacks classroom experience, many say he’s the right man for the job.

When the Office of the Governor listed its job posting for the new state superintendent of schools, the job post required two minimum qualifications: be 21 and have the knowledge and ability of leading the state’s K-12 public education system.

Dale Erquiaga, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s former chief policy adviser, met those requirements and was appointed last week by Sandoval as Nevada’s superintendent of schools. It’s a job that pays up to almost $125,000 annually plus benefits, according to the job posting.

Erquiaga, however, is lacking in one area of the job posting.

First, under the listing, “Additional Desired Qualifications” is the phrase, “Experience in classroom.” Erquiaga has none.nevada flunk

But he said that should not stop him from doing the job as state superintendent. Northern Nevada members of the state school board agree, saying that the role of state superintendent is providing direction and leadership and setting policy for Nevada’s 17 school districts.

It’s not about teaching the three Rs

“I’m a nontraditional selection for this job, and I realize that,” Erquiaga said Friday. He was Sandoval’s chief policy adviser before resigning last year to move closer to his two adult children in Arizona.

“The folks who are gravitating to these jobs may not have classroom experience,” Erquiaga said. “It is a wonderful bonus if you do, and I will spend as much time in a classroom environment as I can. But I don’t feel I come into the job with a deficiency in any sense.” Continue reading

An open video part 2 to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval – STOP the fraud and corruption destroying Nevada

CSI: Carson City, An ANTI-Corruption open letter/video to NV Governor Brian Sandoval about the fraud and corruption destroying Nevada by Guy Felton. Recorded May 25, 2012.