Next Up Blog

This report, issued last month by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, discussed “charter school deserts” in communities where families do not have access to quality charter school options within a practical distance.  The analysis lists, “Central/northwest/northeast parts of the Last Vegas metro area, central/western/northern parts of the Reno metro area,” as Nevada’s most prominent “charter school desert” regions.

To be certain, Las Vegas is in a desert.  And more, high-quality schools, including schools of choice, would represent valuable education opportunities for families in those areas, many of which are underserved by quality public schools.

Some of Nevada’s newest charter schools, including those under the jurisdiction of the Achievement School District like Futuro Academy and the soon-to-open Nevada Prep, have done an inspiring job marketing their school to otherwise educationally underserved communities, and finding ways to locate their campuses where families there can access them.  For other schools, however, finding viable facilities in underserved areas and a dearth of effective public transportation options has made it extremely difficult for schools of choice to serve those families most in need.

The Nevada Educational Opportunity Scholarship program presents one potentially valuable way to help schools serve families with the most limited options (this summer we will launch an initiative we think will help).  Hopefully, Nevada policymakers will continue to explore ways to help schools of choice locate nearest those families most in need of the opportunities they have to offer.

Personalized learning, like so much of what we value most in our schools, should be aligned to the particular educational needs of individual learners – that’s what it’s all about. Success depends on the ways schools support teachers: providing them with effective professional development focused on making the plan work; embracing their iterations and experiments as they work to continually improve their practices; and ultimately putting them in the position to succeed in targeting instruction, interventions and enrichment, including with actionable information to support personalizing learning for all students. Personalizing learning in this way, and to scale, has great promise to transform our educational practices and substantially improve outcomes.

Classrooms that involve technology in providing instruction are frequently described as “blended.”  Educators working strategically with blended tools have raised the bar for enrichment of learning opportunities. For example, the Las Vegas Valley’s Pinecrest family of charter schools during the 2017-18 school year have used classroom technology to allow middle school students to interview subjects including some of the world’s most renowned surgeons, well-flown astronauts, accomplished journalists and A-list celebrities. Students also experience fun, standards-aligned “edutainment” lessons like exploring the interior of plant cells using 3-D animation.

Personalizing teaching and learning for all students leveraging technology requires broad, sustained commitments. This includes adhering to educational improvement strategies enabling teachers to connect with students in effective and engaging ways, allowing the differentiation for meeting each learner “where they are” in their own individualized trajectory of learning.

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This Thursday afternoon, May 17, join us for the fourth and final event in our Spring Speakers Series, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision with two dynamic leaders for educational opportunity.

We are honored to bring the remarkable Gerard Robinson, President of the Center for Advancing Opportunity, a founding leader of Chiefs for Change during his tenure as Secretary of Education for Virginia and Florida, and chair of the Trump Administration’s education transition team, to the Las Vegas Valley, where he will share the podium with the Las Vegas Valley’s own impassioned champion for parental choice, State Senator Scott Hammond.

As always, this event is free to all with a reception in our courtyard immediately following.  Join us in our offices, 241 West Charleston Boulevard (behind Lola’s Restaurant), Suite 150 – abundant parking in any unreserved space in the lot.  Please RSVP to  Hope to see you Thursday.

Teacher Appreciation Week is all about recognizing the amazing educators who make the world go ’round every day in our schools.  Somerset Sky Pointe charter school’s seventh grade reading teacher Marcy Jacobs is one of those educators who really make a difference for her students in meaningful ways, and we are honored to recognize her and this crucial work for kids in the Las Vegas Valley.  Thank you for all that you do!

Today we are honored to spotlight Amanda Oddo remarkable 5th grade teacher at St. Frances de Sales of Las Vegas.  With the importance of STEM teaching and learning perhaps more important now than ever before, Ms. Oddo’s leadership, through innovative lessons her classroom and her own extensive research of the possibilities for STEM, make it a great pleasure to recognize her and her powerful work for National Teacher Appreciation Week 2018. Thank you for all you do!