Who really won in the recent teachers’ union arbitration?

Well, let’s see. “Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Teachers.” That’s the headline on the Clark County Education Association’s website. It’s an amazing spin job, because the consequences of this ruling are simple: more kids per class.

True, some teachers will get small raises, but the Clark County School District will now have to lay off 500-1,000 others to balance the budget. Meanwhile, the kids didn’t disappear; they still have to be taught. So schools will have to cram more kids into the already overcrowded classrooms.

When I ask teachers if they would rather have a tiny raise or three extra kids in their classroom, most say, “I’ll skip the raise.” So did the arbitrator really rule in favor of teachers, as the teachers’ union website claims?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics for the 2009-10 school year, Nevada ranks among the worst in student-teacher ratios. The average kindergarten class here has 35.1 students compared with 20.5 nationally; the average Nevada elementary school class has 26.5 students compared with 19.1; high school, 15.5 students versus 12.1.

It appears we’re heading in the wrong direction. I’ve seen a kindergarten class in action. Imagine herding 35.1 cats. OK, now imagine herding 38.1 cats.

When does this experiment come to an end? Some 309,000 Clark County students, including my own kids, are counting on the community to make better decisions about their education. When we do, the heading on my website will say, “Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Kids.”



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