LAS VEGAS - Nevada parents want accountability from their school system. Parents who spoke with the I-Team say they want someone to answer for the schools that fall short of national standards, the achievement gaps between students and the day-to-day challenges in the classroom.
Most importantly, they want a say in the solution. "If we could create a system where the principals, and the administration of the school, and the teachers and the parents all have the opportunity to be heard, you'd get a lot further," said parent Char Gumbar.
Gumbar can recite the educational benefits of parental involvement as well as any researcher. She and fellow parents Melvin Taylor and Theresa Leeds recognize their efforts in their own children who range in age from kindergarten to high school.
"Every single person I've come in contact with wants my kid to succeed, which is what I want," Leeds said. "So, it begs the question, well, why aren't we succeeding?"
Nearly 60% of Clark County schools failed to meet national standards this year. It's a statistic that troubles the parents. While none of them considers standardized test scores an absolute measure, they struggle to reconcile school performance with that of the individual.
"I would like to see every kid with an individualized education plan," Taylor said. "That helps with… the school may have failed, but my kid did well or the reverse. The school did well, but my kid didn't.
Education reform proposals by gubernatorial candidates Brian Sandoval and Rory Reid seek to simplify school achievement data with a letter grade. Under Sandoval's plan, students at schools earning a "D" or an "F" would be allowed to transfer with transportation provided.
"That is a community for children," Gumbar said. "That is their community, so why disrupt that? Why not, instead of removing the kids, replace the teachers, replace the administrators."
Proposals by both candidates provide for staff removal or termination and for varying degrees of local control. The empowerment school model, advocated by Reid, would give schools autonomy over their budgets, staffing and curriculum with teachers and administrators accountable for the outcomes.
"I'd like to see those accountabilities enforced and those standards enforced," Leeds said. "I don't want to see them named something different. I don't want to see them graded differently. I want to see them enforced, bottom line. And if that's happening, we'll get success."
The parents point out that neither plan addresses achievement gaps involving minority students and those with special needs. The parents insist the candidates should target those inequities.