Pomp, depending on the circumstances
June 8, 2003
We know the names of 63 people, give or take a few exceptions, we wouldn’t be letting walk across our stage at graduation.
That would be the Nevada Legislature, which not only flunked its math exam by not being able to figure out a tax-and-budget plan within its required 120-day session, but then managed to throw the state’s school districts in an uproar by changing graduation requirements — the day before Carson High School’s ceremony.
The problem was the math portion of the state’s proficiency exam. State legislators apparently woke up to the fact it wasn’t working after some 2,200 students failed and weren’t going to get their diplomas.
So on Friday they lowered the passing grade, allowing 1,325 who thought they failed to make the cut.
“This isn’t dumbing down the exam,” said Assemblwoman Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.
You could’ve fooled us. It seems difficult to call lowering the score anything else. But then we were never that good at math.
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It certainly dumbs down the Legislature, though. It confirms many of our lawmakers don’t really have a clue what’s going on in the state’s education system, or what effect the laws they pass are having.
Then there’s the tiny issue of local control.
The legislation says students can go through graduation ceremonies while the school districts try to figure out which ones actually get diplomas and which don’t.
Carson City and Douglas County may be the only high schools in the state which are telling students who don’t pass the proficiency exams they can’t go through the ceremony. Whether you agree with the policy or not (we do, by the way), everybody should realize it’s the local school district’s decision to make.
Carson and Douglas, it’s worth noting, don’t seem to have a big problem getting their seniors ready for the proficiency exams. Not everybody passes, but that will be true no matter how low the bar is set.
Earlier this week, we called the proficiency-exam system imperfect. Today, thanks to the Legislature, it’s a joke. And we haven’t even addressed why this matter would be allowed to come up in a special session.
They still play “Pomp and Circumstance” at graduation ceremonies. This year, it also serves as a fitting theme for the Nevada Legislature.