Issue Position: Education

Issue Position

Date: Jan. 1, 2010

Improving Nevada's educational opportunities is central to the future economic success of Southern Nevada. Politicians cannot pretend that the quality of our educational systems does not directly impact our economic condition and the future of our state and nation. Nevada's students aren't just competing against people from Arizona or California for jobs, they are competing against students in different nations across the globe. If we want our graduates to be able to compete on a global level we need to treat education as a top-level priority instead of an operation where more of the status quo is acceptable.

A strong educational system is a key piece of a viable economy. For too long Nevada's educational system has ranked on the wrong end of the scale. We must work to decrease the bureaucracy that plagues our system, work to get more money in the classroom, and reward good teachers for actually teaching their students, not just for teaching them how to take a test.

No Child Left Behind was a well-intentioned idea that has failed in execution by pushing too much toward cookie-cutter education. As any parent with two or more children will agree…every child is different, even within the same family. Applying uniform structures--that were drawn up in Washington DC--to millions of children from all walks of life across the nation just doesn't make sense. I firmly believe that government works best when it is planned and run as close to the citizen as possible--and in no place does "on the ground governing" make more sense than in education.

We need to focus our financial resources not on added bureaucracy but on actually educating our children. The Federal Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and the Clark County School Board and District create a tremendous amount of paper-pushing and regulation that literally wastes billions of dollars while far too often still failing to educate the child. A parent, teacher and principal know a child far better than a person from district headquarters, Carson City, or worse, Washington DC. We need to give the autonomy and flexibility back to those who need it most: parents, teachers and principals.

Washington bureaucrats and Members of Congress behave as though they know what's best for each and every student and operate on a top-down approach. That is not the solution and it must end.

Ultimately, it is the parents' responsibility to ensure their child receives the education needed to be a success. Therefore, parents should have the right and ability do what is in the best interest of their child. If a school is not performing at the standards a mother or father believes it should be, then these families should have the choice to move their child to a school that does meet their standards. And government needs to help implement that decision, not throw up roadblocks to prevent it from occurring.

Educating Nevada's young minds cannot be a "one size fits all" process; Washington must give more control to local districts to improve the quality of educational opportunities for their students. Education funding should be attached to the child so parents have the flexibility to change schools and get the best education possible. Increasing competition among institutions to improve performance is one way to help. Expanding, not freezing or reducing, charter or home school opportunities to allow specialized education for those who need or want it is a commonsense piece of solving our education problems, but far too often commonsense proposals are squashed by special interest groups. That is not a solution and it must end.

"Improving the educational systems in Southern Nevada is critical to turning around our local economy. We must make teachers accountable for the performance of their students, while giving parents the ability to choose the educational options that are best for their children. Educational choices should be made at the local level and Washington needs to work to provide resources and support, and to help districts better address their specific needs, while giving parents, teachers and principals the flexibility and autonomy to succeed."