Townhall on implicit bias and racism set for Thursday

In an effort to learn about what are the root causes of racism in schools, a townhall will explore this topic and more.

It is set for this Thursday, October 17 at 6pm at the Centennial Hills Library in Northwest Las Vegas.

The location is deliberate. It is just blocks from Arbor View HS and Cadwallader MS, site of past notable racial incidents.

Co-sponsored by No Racism in Schools #1865 and moderated by local education podcaster Carrie Kaufman of the Nevada Voice, topics will also include examining implicit bias and how it affects people.

“The plan is to open up dialogue and continue to raise awareness, this townhall will happen every month throughout the city, many people dont know a lot of what’s going on, a lot of people have no idea what happened at Arbor View, we want to come into the communities and hear the peoples voice on issues,” Akiko Cooks said. Cooks is a parent of one of the Arbor View 9, a group of boys targeted earlier this year in a foiled plot that resulted in two arrests and expulsions.

“We can’t fix everything in one day, maybe not even in one year, we are doing what we can and know to do,” Cooks added.

E.C. 😉

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CCSDer uses poetry to connect others to Nevada history

(DOWNTOWN)–Some people say that the Valley’s transient population contributes to the perceived lack of culture. But one CCSDer is trying to change that perception in his own way.

Rodney Lee has brilliantly connected African culture mashed with Nevada’s Native American roots to help people understand local history.

Lee released his third poetry anthology Saturday evening titled “Along These Trails” to a gathering of friends and literary enthusiasts in Downtown Las Vegas. Fellow area poets Harry Fagel, James Norman and Jennifer Battisti joined Lee during the Saturday evening event.

An accomplished writer and photographer, Lee is a former classroom teacher and a current administrator with the District’s Equity and Diversity department. He was joined by his wife Jeanette, herself an ELA teacher at Coronado HS.

Lee told CCSW the connections from the past to the present was deliberate in this anthology.

“‘Along These Trails’ connects the past, present and future. When I came to Nevada, I didn’t know anything about Nevada history,” Lee said.

Lee sets up the anthology with several references to Kwaku Anansi, a trickster in West African stories who appears as both spider and man. Lee continues the use of Anansi throughout the book as he points out both significant places and events in Nevada history. In addition, Lee educates readers by pointing out significant events during the Civil Rights movement as it relates to the Historic Westside.

Copies of “Along These Trails” can be purchased by visiting his Web site at https://poetrynlight.com/

E.C. 😉

SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Anthony Marentic, Arbor View HS

(NORTHWEST LAS VEGAS)–You can call him “doctor” now, thank you very much.

The assistant principal of Arbor View HS just received his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from UNLV recently and it almost seals an education career that spans nearly a quarter of a century, with the majority of that time being spent in the Clark County School District.

He is in his fifth year as vice principal at the far Northwest valley school.

But Dr. Marentic has a fierce personal side–his love of music–and it is slowly becoming part of his professional side.

When our conversation began this past Tuesday morning over coffee at Starbucks near Arbor View HS, we spent the majority of our time reflecting on past racial incidents which have severely hampered and affected the culture and the quality of life at AVHS. When our conversation concluded about an hour later, it was clear that he was reflecting on how to cap off his career.

But he’s not done yet.

Contemplating on the incidents that occurred this past Spring in which two students were arrested, tried, convicted and expelled over planning a series of racially charged terror attacks against nine black students at AVHS, and more recently, reports that some students yelled inappropriate remarks toward black and brown students during that school’s Spirit Week, Marentic said the school continues to address the culture and climate at AVHS and lessons continue to be learned.

“After the incident (last Spring), we were reflective on our social-emotional curriculum,” Marentic said. “We don’t care about your ethnicity or religion, we just want you to get a quality education or be prepared for the military.”

He explained the recent reports of threats during the school’s spirit week.

“There was one report I received regarding someone wearing a MAGA hat, and an investigation took place. Some students complained they didn’t like the hat.
The great thing was that we got community members involved to talk about spirit days.
We had a cowboy day, where unfortunately, black students didn’t participate despite the existence of black cowboys,” Marentic said.

Lessons continue to be learned. Dr. Marentic credits the school’s BSU (black student union) along with several area black Greek organizations, in an effort to help mobilize the school’s youth of color and help unify the larger student population.

And in the absence of leadership on this issue by Las Vegas city councilwoman Michele Fiore, whose ward encompasses AVHS, Marentic said the school is concentrating on a larger communitywide effort to bring people together, using social media.

“E&D (CCSD Equity & Diversity) is involved in conversations, about school safety, we’ve talked about the climate in our country, and the processes in moving forward to be successful, as far as education with all students, to understand their point of view,” Marentic explained. “We want the community to see successful black men on campus, we’re trying to do what we can to ensure diversity is on campus, where all people are welcome.”

Originally from Chicago, Dr. Marentic leads an education family. With five children and wife Belinda, herself with CCSD’s Educational Services Division, he uses music to attempt to make complex issues make sense.

“The book I’m currently reading is Tonal Harmony by Straus. It looks at 20th century mathematical equations to write music. My dad taught me the music business,” he said, explaining that he played trumpet while in the Army. Marentic is a veteran of the first Gulf War.

As he is slowly winding down his career, having spent many years in CCSD (with previous assignments at Von Tobel MS, Mojave and Canyon Springs HS, and West Prep MS, Marentic laments on what the future holds, both for him and for diversity among the teaching ranks. Only two percent of the national teaching cadre are black men and there are only a handful of black administrators within the District.

“Where are our black teachers,” Marentic boldly asked. “I would like to see more teachers and administrators of color. Back in the day, I always saw black teachers, I think it’s important. Our media paints a horrible picture about us and people need to see who we are,” he added. But he also agreed it’s a national problem and doesn’t fault the District that there are few black teachers and administrators in its ranks.

But most importantly, Dr. Marentic wanted to let people know that racism doesn’t define Arbor View’s campus culture and that there are good people there.

“There are good teachers, good people, good families at AVHS. With these incidents, they were devastated as well. There are plenty of people who want what’s good for our students. We had a lot of teachers step up and ask how they can help to ensure everyone is included. Same with administrators, they are all good people,” Marentic said.

Editor’s Note: the CCSW Sunday Spotlight aims to feature the human side of a CCSDer. If you or someone you know may have an interest in being interviewed for the Sunday Spotlight, contact me here on clarkcountyschoolwatch@gmail.com.

E.C. 😉

PRESS RELEASE: CCSD to offer students Spanish-language college assessment

My question is this…what about the students at Global whose primary language is not Spanish? There is a small percentage of students at GCHS whose primary language is not Spanish.

Asking for a friend…

CCSD to offer students Spanish-language college assessment

Global Community High School students selected for pilot program

LAS VEGAS – The Clark County School District (CCSD) in partnership with the College Board will pilot the Prueba de Aptitud Académica (PAA) assessment for 11th and 12th graders at Global Community High School in 2019.

The PAA is a test offered through College Board Puerto Rico y America Latina (CBPRAL), part of the College Board. It is currently being used in Puerto Rico and Latin America. Similar to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), it will measure what a student has learned during high school and what they can do to prepare to succeed in college. One key difference is that the PAA is administered completely in Spanish. It assesses students on three components: Reading and Writing, Mathematics, and English as a Second Language. A 200- to 800-point scale is used for each component.

The PAA and SAT do not have an equivalency table for direct comparison, rather it is intended to measure a student’s content knowledge without the barrier of English not being a primary language.

All 11th and 12th graders at Global Community High School will participate in the PAA. Proctors from both Global Community HS and the English Language Learner Division will receive direct training from the College Board prior to the test date. The test is approximately 3 hours in length and will be conducted entirely in Spanish.

CCSD anticipates approximately 100 juniors and seniors at Global Community High School will complete the assessment on Oct. 10, 2019. Students will pay nothing for the test, which typically costs $50 per test. The District is receiving the testing as a pilot, with a cost savings of $5,000.

🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎

E.C. 😉

Monday Musings for 10/7/19

Former dean wants you to get political

This time just months ago, Cristal Boisseau was the dean of Shadow Ridge HS. Today, as the now-former dean of Shadow Ridge HS, she wants you to get political. She’s inviting you to participate in an upcoming community forum to discuss how to run for political office. It’s set for October 19 from 1-3:30pm at CSN West. Sponsored by the Las Vegas chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, the forum will tackle strategies on how to run for office and win, along with hearing from successful women serving in various levels of government.

When asked if this a precursor to an upcoming announcement of some sort, Boisseau wouldn’t share specifics. She was the public face during the recent deans debacle this past summer in which 170+ deans were displaced during the District’s most recent budget crisis.

Councilwoman honest about Jara

North Las Vegas city councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown was briefly candid during her Reading Rainbow event this past Saturday. As a now former administrator who just retired from the District after 35 years, she told CCSW there were good and bad things to note about the direction of the District and superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara. Prior to her recent retirement, she was an assistant principal at Richard Bryan ES.

“Every new administration commands change, it’s a process. Some things are working well, some things aren’t,” Goynes-Brown said.

Rodney Lee does Poetry

Rodney Lee, an influential voice with the District’s Equity & Diversity department, is also a writer, photographer and poet.

This coming Saturday, he’s hosting a release party Downtown at 7pm at Three Sheets Craft Beer Bar, 1115 S. Casino Center Blvd., 89104.

Please out this on your calendar if you enjoy good beer and good literature.

8 Black Hands does Vegas

This coming Friday evening, comes a live podcast and discussion centered around the education of black children. 8 Black Hands features Dr. Charles Cole, Citizen Stewart, Raymond Ankrum and Sharif El-Mekki. Their mantra is four black men passionate about educating black minds in a country that failed them. Sponsored by Opportunity 180, the podcast will discuss important topics with public school communities. 5:30pm this Friday at 1029 So. Main Street, Downtown.

E.C. 😉

CTE director submits options for Upper North Las Vegas

Yesterday, Clark County School Watch reported how superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara is now looking seriously at some CTE options for students in Upper North Las Vegas, after years and years of neglect (see https://clarkcountyschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2019/10/05/jara-subtly-argues-for-a-new-cte-in-upper-nlv/).

CCSW just obtained a letter from a concerned citizen that includes written testimony from CTE director Kerry Larnerd that was submitted during the same bond oversight committee hearing.

Larnerd presented some strong alternatives that are indeed worthy of discussion.

It may be worth having a town hall to discuss these options with the larger community.

Here is the other item to consider: the District-owned land adjacent to Legacy HS is there. It’s just sitting there. If a CTE is built there, there needs to be an assurance that neighborhood kids get priority slots if there is magnet lottery. Otherwise, the work we’re doing is in vain.

Larnerd’s position is that five new tech centers at these five North Las Vegas high schools will provide access to high quality CTE programs for thousands of students at their zoned high schools. No lottery.

Thoughts?

E.C. 😉

It’s time to discuss the situation at Arbor View (COMMENTARY)

Being frank for a moment, it’s time to have a come-to-Jesus discussion about Arbor View HS. More importantly, it’s time to caucus about racism in schools.

Because lessons haven’t been learned yet. So like our teachers do in school, we must reteach.

Yesterday, CCSW reported that a recent Spirit Week held at AVHS featured themes that some students hijacked to intimidate other students. We inadvertently reported that it was a “Make America Great Again” theme when it was more of a patriotic theme (see https://clarkcountyschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2019/10/04/lessons-not-learned-yet-at-arbor-view/).

And while we regret the error, there is no doubt that some black and brown students were victims of intimidation. We received credible reports of students taunting and yelling “MAGA” in the faces of black and brown children. We received credible reports of students threatening latinx children with taunts of “ICE” and “La Migra.”

This is not okay.

When those taunts are yelled in the faces of children, it doesn’t take rocket science to understand what that means.

I wondered if those who wrote in yesterday and messaged me about the theme of spirit week being incorrectly reported had anything to say about the racist taunts? Because none of them did.

Last school year, nine black students were targeted in a foiled racial terror attack. Two students were arrested, tried, convicted, and expelled. The Oakland-based National Equity Project was brought in to attempt to turn things around, but parents of the Arbor View 9 tell CCSW it was just smoke and mirrors.

We have heard nothing at all from Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore, whose ward encompasses AVHS and Cadwallader, another site of racial problems last year and a primary feeder to AVHS. And considering her past statements on race, we’re not at all surprised at the lack of proactive leadership from her office.

CCSW is setting up a meeting with school officials in the coming days for an exclusive interview.

And even though those close to AVHS were rightfully quick to defend their school, very few had anything to say about the taunts.

In addition, this email received by our office yesterday didn’t help either.

We have been unable to authenticate the source of this letter and we haven’t been able to determine if it is really an AVHS student or not.

But as we said last school year, it’s not just AVHS. Several other campuses had problems last year. And the problems at AVHS go back a number of years, according to parents of alumni.

It’s a District problem which will require a District response. The response has been lackadaisical, to say the least.

Akiko Cooks and Jshauntae Marshall have been the public faces of the Arbor View 9, now No Racism in Schools #1865. But the problem will take more than a handful of parents.

It will take a village and we need the village to step up.

This is ugly behavior and we need the village to help exume and root out this behavior from our schools. And fast.

E.C. 😉