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How to play pro ball and be cruel to your school
by Andrew Barbano
Sep 18, 2013 | 930 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week, the Washoe County School District touted another literally incredible increase in high school graduation rates. At 72 percent, we are now approaching former Superintendent Heath Morrison's latest miracle in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina.

Alas, this week the Nevada Dept. of Education released statewide ratings.

"More than 20 percent of schools in Washoe County slipped in the ranking of 604 schools," wrote Reno Gazette-Journal reporter Siobahn McAndrew.

"The school accountability framework for the 2012-13 school year shows that 25 percent of schools in Nevada are ranked lower than the previous school year," she noted.

Dale Erquiaga, Gov. Brian Sandoval's cosmetic new education czar, creatively spun the sludge as the positive result of raised standards.

Erquiaga needs to do some homework.

"His experience in education is as meager as the governor's commitment to it," the Reno News & Review editorialized last week.

Erquiaga's predecessor, James Guthrie, exhibited a nasty habit of criticizing Nevada's starvation-level school support and quit because he saw no hope of improvement.

Like slick Prof. Harold Hill in Meredith Willson's Broadway classic, Morrison re-jiggered and re-shuffled the way graduation rates are calculated for two years. He got out when he saw that the charade could not be sustained a third time and cast current Superintendent Pedro Martinez to play the patsy.

Morrison hired Martinez as his No. 2 in 2009. Martinez quickly jumped to Las Vegas where he apparently taught Gomorrah South Superintendent Dwight Jones how to sell the songbook of Willson's non-existent River City Boys Band.

Predictably, Jones and Martinez scored an incredible increase in graduation rates, then both abruptly quit.

Only the Barbwire last year reported that WCSD keeps two sets of books, one for public consumption, the other for the state. They don't mesh.

Disclosure of the discrepancies resulted in the beginning of the neverending series "We Don't Need No Education." This is the 25th installment.

Morrison is no fool. He took the Charlotte job knowing that his freshman year would be the first in which seniors could graduate under already-weakened standards. He also knew that the Charlotte board was open to changing the way graduation rates are calculated, a perfect recipe for another instant miracle.

All three school administrations now bask in the glow of self-congratulation.

Please don't ask about graduation rates for black and brown kids in these parts.

Last Tuesday, the Reno paper graphically reflected Nevada's educational priorities. Next to a small front-page headline on the collapsing school ratings, the RGJ printed a huge full-color spread about a new $46 million (before interest) UNR athletic complex to be built with mostly borrowed money charged to future students and exempt from competitive bidding.

The story included a properly flattering photo of Gov. Veto El Obtúse, suitable for re-election brochures.

We don't need no education.

Esté bien. Haga infierno. Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 44-year Nevadan and editor of Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. E-mail .
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