Commission wants to force Coronado students to go to Liberty High School

Victor Joecks

Last week, we told you about how Coronado High School has too many students and Liberty High School doesn't have enough. Since the Henderson schools are within five miles each other, the easy solution for the Attendance Zone Advisory Commission was to change the zoning. Their proposal is here.

While it's easy for commission members to draw lines on a map and solve the numbers problem, what's not easy to do—read impossible to do—is make a change that benefits all the children who are forced to switch schools.

Consider Annette and Tom Westerfield's son, who would be forced to go to Liberty under the proposed plan.


Annette and Tom Westerfield discussed some of the hardships their family would face were they forced to move to Liberty. Their oldest son has been in band and football for the past two years. In band, he has worked to raise money which would go toward any of his band needs, and his personal account totals $500. If he transferred, that money would revert back to Coronado's general band fund and he would have to start over, she said.

Plus, he'd have to start over with a different band and a different team, which might affect scholarship opportunities for the aspiring USC student, Annette Westerfield said.

"We're counting on football or band scholarships for college," she said.

Now Liberty's principal, Rosalind Gibson, is promoting her school to try and win parents and students over.


Liberty High School's principal is defending the quality of her school in the wake of protests by Anthem parents that their children may be moved from Coronado High to Liberty.

"We have something for everyone," Principal Rosalind Gibson said before rattling off some of her proudest moments—from both boys and girls basketball teams that have made the regional playoffs to an award-winning dance program and the involvement of student volunteers.


While it makes sense for Gibson to sell her school, what doesn't make sense is forcing students and parents who don't want to go to Liberty to transfer there solely based on where they live. No doubt Liberty's dance program and less crowded environment would appeal to some students and their parents. Maybe there are also some students at Coronado who have fallen in with the wrong crowd or struggled to make friends and could use a fresh start at a new school.


This is the double tragedy that is happening at Liberty and Coronado. Not only are students who love Liberty likely to be forced to leave and go to a school they don't want to attend, but students who may have benefitted by transferring to Liberty are denied that opportunity because they don't live in the right neighborhood.


It doesn't have to be like this. As Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation for Teachers, recently wrote:


Should fate, as determined by a student's Zip code, dictate how much algebra he or she is taught? Such a system isn't practical: Modern American society is highly mobile.


No, location is a horrible factor in determining where a student should attend school, whether determined by zip code or arbitrary lines. 


Parents and students should decide what school is right for them, rather than schools deciding what students they will serve based on where their parents live.

And yes, Nevada could implement a system of school choice that would solve the problem at Coronado and Liberty and save the state over $1 billion in the next 10 years.

That would be a win for parents, students, Liberty and Coronado high schools, and taxpayers.