Union, what's your secret?

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By The Staff

Those interested in our schools often focus on the win-loss records of the West Las Vegas and Robertson football teams. But we’d like to offer two numbers that are much more important for our community’s future — 72 and 76.

The first number is the percentage of students at Union Elementary School who are deemed proficient in math. The second one is the percent who are proficient in reading.

These numbers suggest that Union is among the city’s best elementary schools. Only a few other schools come close on the same proficiency exams. On the East side, Paul D. Henry and Los Niños elementaries are a few points behind in the reading category, but far away in math.

Union is a local success story. Often, schools in wealthier areas perform better than their counterparts. But Union bucks that trend because it’s in the middle of a working class neighborhood.

So what is Union’s secret? Frankly, we’re not sure. The success has continued under different principals and teachers.

Maybe its small size is a factor. It has fewer students than most elementaries in town, but not all.

Or could it be that Union has had a strong parent-teacher organization? Studies, after all, have shown parental involvement plays a key role in student success.

A few years ago, the financially-strained West Las Vegas district was considering closing Union. The administration appeared to see little more than an old building that needed a lot of work. But parents loudly protested. Why do away with a great school? they asked. They were right, and the school board backed off.

We urge local teachers and administrators — yes, from both sides of town — to figure out what Union is doing right, and bring the school’s best practices to all the others in town. Wouldn’t it be great if we had all of our schools at Union’s level?

Also, why not give Union Elementary’s teachers merit pay increases? Sure, we know some others would howl, but we should reward teachers who are doing right by their students and ultimately our community.  

As the weather gets cooler, many are excited about the high school football games, ready to wear their spirit colors. But can we divert at least some of that attention to Union? That’s who we should be cheering — 72 and 76 are great numbers.