School chiefs critique bill for remedial classes

A bill that would expand opportunities for high school students to catch up on credits for graduation is a great idea, but one more thing cash-strapped districts can't afford, school representatives said Monday.

School lobbyists weighed in at an Assembly Education Committee hearing for AB138, a wide-ranging bill aimed at better preparing high schoolers for college or the work force. It would require schools to inform students about special programs such as honors courses or career technical education. It also calls for more remedial classes, including ones during the school day.

"We're not opposed to credit retrieval, but we're opposed to unfunded mandates," said Joyce Haldeman, who represents Clark County School District.

The bill comes after a recent national ranking published by Education Week put Nevada dead last for high school graduation rate.

Clark County School District already offers summer school and an online credit recovery program. But the opportunities to recover credits don't always mean students will take them.

"Student willingness is a big part of the equation," Haldeman said. "Especially if they're still working on existing credits, they really have to hunker down."

Other elements of the bill drew scrutiny Monday, including a provision to establish a "secret witness" program so students can report misconduct at school or on school buses.

Dane Claussen of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada said the measure could foster frivolous accusations.

"Students don't always play nice with each other," Claussen said.

AB138 also calls for the higher education system and the K-12 Department of Education to design a plan ensuring high school standards align with college and work force expectations. Other sections repeal 1950s-era provisions allowing students to leave school after finishing eighth grade to pursue employment or an apprenticeship.

Advocates of homeschooling said those laws allow flexibility and freedom for students in unique situations; bill proponents called the rules obsolete.

"It doesn't make sense for any student to leave school after the eighth grade," said Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault.

No action was taken by the committee..


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