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Bill to repeal key school accountability law in Nevada destined for death

Updated February 9, 2018 - 3:50 pm

CARSON CITY — Democrats aren’t wasting any time trying to overturn Republican reforms from 2015.

On Day 2 of the 2017 Nevada Legislature, Assemblywoman Dina Neal introduced AB103, which would repeal the Achievement School District. That bill passed last session, when Republicans controlled both houses, as AB448. Based on the success New Orleans had with its Recovery School District, ASD converts chronically underperforming public schools to charter schools.

Now Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature.

ASD doesn’t run the schools. It negotiates contracts with charter management organizations that compete to run the selected schools. AB448 allowed the ASD to convert a maximum of just six schools a year from public to charter.

“We’ve done other interventions, such as reorganization of schools, regardless of the lawsuit, and turnaround schools,” said Neal. “We have done Victory, Zoom. We’re doing several interventions at once. I think we need to allow those to work versus the conversion to charters.”

While the Legislature passed numerous education spending increases last session, ASD was one of the few that included consequences for schools with a history of failing students, instead of rewarding them with additional funding. A near tripling of inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending over the last 60 years hasn’t increased student achievement. Students at failing schools clearly need ASD.

Some of the opposition to the Achievement School District comes from what it does to unions, not how it helps children. In Louisiana, Recovery School District schools in Louisiana aren’t covered by collective bargaining agreements.

“One of the things that concerned me was that there is no teachers’ union anymore (in the Recovery School District),” said Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, according to minutes from the 2015 hearing on AB448. “I believe this bill would similarly lead to that sort of result. Quite frankly, it feels like the nuclear option for teachers’ unions.”

That’s the strongest endorsement for a policy I’ve ever heard. Fortunately, the Achievement School District looks safe for now.

“I don’t expect it (AB103) to go anywhere,” said Assemblyman Paul Anderson, Republican minority leader. “I think there’s enough of us” to uphold a veto.

“There is another bill coming out of the Senate that’s more just fixing some of the regulations. We were trying to do it through regs, and those didn’t pass. There is a bill coming out of the Senate that will help us do it through statute, and I think we’ll get some consensus on that.”

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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