Las Vegas elementary and high schools are suffering from a severe teacher shortage. And an atmosphere more dedicated to “social justice” than holding students to grading and behavioral standards is finally getting its share of the blame.
“[A] new grading system is making educators’ jobs increasingly harder,” National Education Association of Southern Nevada President Vicki Kreidel said in a Dec. 8 “Public Comment” statement released by the teacher’s union on the problem. “Students across the district are taking advantage of it. Allowing students to pass with very little effort is not setting them up to succeed in the workforce, especially in high school.”
“Student behaviors are out of control across the district,” Kreidel continued. “The Restorative Justice façade doesn’t help. Students are struggling with behavior and mental health but we have no support to offer them. Some schools don’t feel safe for staff or students. It’s only a matter of time before very serious incidents happen. Educators are suffering because of how students are treating them and nothing is being done.”
Teachers ‘Crying at Lunch’
Unfortunately, serious incidents have already occurred. A lot of them.
In April, the Nevada Independent reported on the state of terror existing at one school district. “A violent attack on an Eldorado High School teacher by a student last week sent ripples of fear across Nevada’s largest school district,” the paper wrote. “Nine miles away at Canyon Springs High School, teacher Jamie Tadrzynski said they saw colleagues crying at lunch and heard students say they’re afraid of coming to school because they no longer feel it’s safe.”
The incident was described as “brutal.” That doesn’t begin to describe it. A 16-year-old student reportedly went to discuss his grades with a teacher and then allegedly beat, sexually assaulted, strangled and “knocked her unconscious multiple times,” The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported at the time.
“I don’t know why I attacked her, she was good to me,” the student told police. Perhaps he did it because at that moment he knew he could. Perhaps not holding children and teens who have not developed the impulse control of grown adults to any account whatsoever only fuels the sinister chaos that has descended upon Las Vegas-area schools.
“Since the beginning of the 2021/2022 school year, [Clark County School District] has had 5,350 incidents of violence reported on school campuses – everything ranging from fights to sexual assaults,” local CBS affiliate KLAS-TV reported in February.
What Schools Are Missing
“Discipline is the foundation of education,” Alandre Bass, parent of a Clark County student whose wife is a teacher, told The Nevada Independent. “If you don’t have discipline in place, then… you don’t have a structural education system in place.”
“The kids know that they can get away with everything and we need to go back to the zero tolerance because they’re providing them so much grace that it’s putting us in danger,” Shadow Ridge High School teacher Kalah Williams said.
Tragically, for a great number of these students, the lack of discipline begins at home.
“Matt Kelly Elementary School in West Las Vegas, which serves predominantly Black and Latino students, had the highest [teacher] vacancy percentage, at nearly 41 percent,” The Independent noted in July. “The picture is similar at other schools with teacher vacancy percentages of at least 20 percent – almost 80 percent of their students are Black or Latino.”
Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak was on hand for the first day of the new educational year at the inner-city school. Sisolak told The Review-Journal that he made it a point to visit Kelly Elementary in recent years because of its diverse student population. He added that more than 90 percent of households in Kelly’s school district were headed by single moms. While the “it takes a village” approach is no way to raise a child, Las Vegas-area schoolkids apparently aren’t learning any more about self-discipline in the classroom than at home.
At Ruby Duncan Elementary School in North Las Vegas, clapping erasers during recess is not what Principal Amy Manning has in mind for unruly students. “Manning believes everyone is entitled to a bad day,” The Independent observed in an August article.
The paper explains:
“The so-called ‘zen den’ began as a way to address student behavior even before the [coronavirus] pandemic, Manning said. The room started with punching bags, but the North Las Vegas school later added other stations where students can relax or let their energy out. Today, the room is equipped with items such as mini trampolines, cozy seating, a hammock and a weighted blanket. Relaxation music fills the space.
“It’s a place where teachers can direct students if they are acting out or if staff notices that they are having a bad day and need additional support. But students can also earn time in the zen den individually or as a class with good behavior, Manning said.”
It has long been a truism that kids yearn for discipline and prefer to be challenged rather than coddled. A therapeutic approach that treats them like stressed-out mini-adults should and does only breed contempt. Combine that with an epidemic of fatherlessness, and the consequences are not difficult to imagine. A hammock and a blanket may make a school administrator feel good about herself, but it does nothing to make children believe an authority figure genuinely cares about them and their future.
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