By the Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial Board, November 7, 2023
For 30 years, legislative Democrats have blocked, hobbled or dismantled virtually every significant effort at education reform in Nevada. Now they’ve found a scapegoat for the state’s public school shortcomings.
Last week, Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, called on Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara to resign. “Unfortunately, community leaders, parents, teachers and students no longer trust that Dr. Jara can get CCSD back on track,” Yeager wrote on X. “This moment in time cries out for a change in leadership to restore trust in CCSD and bring new and fresh ideas to public education in Southern Nevada.”
Like clockwork, Senate Majority Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, piled on this week. “Dr. Jara’s administration is a failure,” she said in Tuesday news release, “and under any reasonable circumstances, he should resign or be terminated. Unfortunately, a majority of the CCSD Board of Trustees has created an environment where Dr. Jara and his senior administrators are never expected to produce results and are never held accountable for their arrogant, intransigent leadership.”
Mr. Jara’s five-year tenure has indeed been uninspiring. He has made missteps, no doubt, most notably his woefully misguided effort to dumb down grading standards. But Mr. Jara’s performance aside, it’s laughable that Ms. Cannizzaro and Mr. Yeager have the gall to criticize him over a lack of “fresh ideas,” “accountability” and “results.”
For decades, Democrats in Carson City have run interference for an education establishment that blithely accepts academic mediocrity as it fails thousands of children each year who are passed on from grade to grade despite struggling to read and perform basic computations. At the same time, these lawmakers toiled to preserve the failing status quo by subverting a long list of reforms intended to improve accountability and achievement.
Instead, Mr. Yeager and Ms. Cannizzaro — and a long line of Democratic lawmakers who preceded them — insist that only more money can solve what ails Nevada’s public schools. Now that the past two Republican governors have agreed to pour billions more money into the system, and state taxpayers have yet to see results, they serve up Mr. Jara as the fall guy.
In fact, the attacks on Mr. Jara reek of politics, as district officials have angered legislative Democrats by playing hardball with the local teachers union over salary hikes.
Mr. Jara deserves heat, yes. But the district’s woes predate his tenure. In fact, the main constant over the past decades has been a Democratic legislative contingent that demands endless taxpayer money for education, all while shielding the entrenched public school establishment from accountability for its performance. Mr. Yeager and Ms. Cannizzaro are just the latest stars of this long-running tragedy.