When you want to make an omelet, you need to break a few eggs. That adage also clearly applies to our state’s education system. I’ve been a Nevada resident for almost half a century and, as long as I’ve been here, the biggest topic of concern has been our failing school district. For years we’ve been among the worst in the nation in a number of measurements.
Our failure in improving the educational system continues to hinder economic development efforts, increase our crime rate and is a disservice to the next generation. Over the years we’ve tried more funding, more legislation, different leadership and a variety of possible solutions, but our rankings still put us at 49th in education.
The Clark County School District (CCSD), with about 320,000 students, is the fifth largest school district in the country. And, while Washoe County School District doesn’t rank nearly as high, it is still too large with over 61,000 students. Part of the problem is under representation for Nevada students. As an example, the Chicago public school district has one trustee for every 72 students, while CCSD has one for every 45,714 and WCSD has one for every 8,799.
Even more important than the lack of representation by trustees, the district is so large that parents don’t have a voice. Smaller, more responsive districts would allow parents to have a greater influence on their children’s education.
We all know that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. It’s time to stop doing the same thing and make a change in order to provide a quality education to all our students.
There is hope. A group of non-partisan business leaders, headed by Henderson Councilman Dan Stewart and Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick are leading the charge to break up the state’s school districts. Called the Community Schools Initiative, the group must collect 140,777 signatures by November 23rd of this year and submit them to the Secretary of State. Signatures must be divided evenly between each of the four congressional districts. The issue will then either be approved by the legislature or appear on the 2024 ballot for approval by the voters. Obviously, the hope is our lawmakers will act and we can start the process of rebuilding smaller districts with better management and representation to provide all our kids with a better education.
The initiative allows cities and municipalities to opt out of the big districts and keep the same level of state funding for the schools, teachers and students. The smaller community districts can participate in sports and purchase goods and services with the County School District. Best of all, our teachers won’t need to worry about their retirement, as the initiative would keep all their benefits in place.
Should the Community Schools Initiative be successful in facilitating a breakup of the district, it would still take some time to restructure education, shift authority and responsibility to the smaller districts and start rebuilding efforts. But, it’s a big step in the right direction.
CALL TO ACTION: I urge you to get behind this initiative and pave the way for a better future for our children. Reach out to your legislative representative and urge them to act on the initiative when it comes before them in the next session. For more information visit www.communityschoolsnv.com
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”