As We See It

Was Vegas’ elementary school cheating an inevitable scandal?

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It seems unthinkable: A nearly three-year state investigation into Matt Kelly Elementary School revealed that some adults changed students’ answer sheets.

But it’s not unthinkable for Chip Mosher, a teacher with the Clark County School District since 1988, who predicted cheating on a national scale back in the early 2000s with the advent of the corporate reform of education.

“I’m completely not surprised,” Mosher says. “Under corporate reform, you’re going to create the facade that looks like they want it to look, or you lose your job, or your school could be reconstituted or be made into an empowerment school. It’s no longer about the students or teachers. It’s all about money.” And lack thereof. Mosher says Nevada’s teachers had an 18 percent cost of living increase over the last 15 years, and the national average is 40 to 50 percent.

What’s interesting, Mosher says, is that prior to corporate reform, Nevada’s schools were ranked nationally in the middle of the pack, “and when the reform movement hit, we dropped to the bottom, a sudden drop out of nowhere.” Mosher’s theory is that Nevada didn’t drop—other states rose, perhaps not through ethical means.

There’s certainly plenty of evidence to back up Mosher’s claim, most notably the Michelle Rhee cheating scandal in Washington, D.C., a few years ago. And while Mosher is as appalled as everyone else over the local scandal, he calls it an “isolated incident” and points out that it’s the first and only instance of adult cheating for CCSD since corporate reform. “I’m proud of the work we do here,” he says. “There’s so many good people here who care about education and kids. And that’s why it’s never going to be a broken system.”

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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