Nevada Dems Propose Funding For ELL Programs

Crowded classroom 1The most common legislative excuse for doing nothing is: “Money won’t solve the problem.”  Yes. Putting five dollars in a coffee can — do they even make metal coffee cans anymore? — and inserting it in a classroom won’t solve anything.  The important point is What Will The Money Pay For?  The Democrats in the Nevada Assembly have some revenue ideas and some expenditure proposals as well. [LVSun]

I’m not sure what “appropriate” funding for English Language Learning might be, but adequate might be a good replacement term.  We do know that about 17.5% of all Nevada K-12 students need assistance with English, and we know that 80% of those youngsters are native born citizens of the United States of America and the state of Nevada.   [NEC] We also know that unemployment rates are higher for young people who have not graduated from high school, as are the incarceration rates. Thus, we can pay now — or we can pay later.

What we could be paying for now, so we don’t have to pay more later, is staffing levels proportional to the size of the problem.  There really isn’t any way around the staffing and funding issues; education is now and will ever be a labor intensive sector of the economy. For all the technological gimmicks and gadgets available, there is no substitute for having a trained professional in a room in which we want children to be educated.

If we’d like to send the radical right into convulsions of talking point spasms suggest more technology in the classroom, and then watch this happen in a public meeting about curriculum standards:

“Like many parents who oppose the Common Core, Beaton’s concerns have grown as she has attended meetings and heard and read things that scare her, including blogs that link to a single page in a 126-page U.S. Department of Education draft report titled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century.”

The passage describes four devices, including a pressure-sensitive computer mouse and a facial expression camera that can monitor students’ engagement during online tutoring.” [StLPD]

Yes, the questioner heard from a friend, then “read blogs” and heard about the technology on the radio — we can guess what kinds of shows — and went right over the cliff about Big Brother controlling the minds of the little kiddies.  Someone forgot to tell the poor woman that (1) the report had NOTHING to do with curriculum, or (2) the report called the technology intrusive and inappropriate… Leaving reporters to record:

“Such fears seem to have caught educators across the state off guard, leaving them almost slack-jawed when pressed about them at board meetings and forums.

At the meeting at Lindbergh, Pannett shouted questions from the back of the room about whether her children are about to become science experiments.”  [StLPD]

And there we have it.  If we utilize more technology to “replace” teachers in the classrooms then it’s Mind Control From Big Brother Fascist Socialist Communist (whatever).   If we hire more teachers to deliver the curriculum in regular or ELL environments then we’re just pandering to the teachers unions to hire more people.  Right wing state legislator are given an option — any excuse will do — to avoid spending more funds on education.   However, there’s a price tag for adopting the radical route.  Youngsters who don’t graduate from Nevada high schools, or who are not likely to graduate therefrom, constitute a $17 trillion problem, or to put it another way if they stay in this state and conform to  the probabilities related to unemployment, incarceration, etc. we’ll have a $17 trillion dollar drag on the state’s economy.  [NSEA AI pdf]

The $17 trillion is a worst case scenario, but anytime we start putting the “Tr” in front of “illions” it’s obvious we have a funding issue over the long haul.

Here’s hoping the Nevada Democrats can devise a funding formula which will allow the state to stop digging the investment hole in which we’ve languished, and that the Republicans will refrain from hearing from friends, and the blogs, and the radio which all serve to  reinforce their fears of creating a educated citizenry.

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