If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing while expecting different results, then our approach to education in Nevada is certifiable.
One thing nearly every Nevadan agrees on is the dismal state of our current education system. Specifically, the Clark County School District (CCSD), which is the 5th largest in the nation and has some of the worst academic outcomes.
The establishment’s favorite talking point is that schools are underfunded — however, this complaint rings hollow given massive increases in funding over the last 7 years, beginning with a Republican-led tax increase in 2015. Throughout the years, each funding increase has failed to fix the problem for one simple reason: funding alone isn’t what’s plaguing the system.
Superintendent Jara, in his February 2022 “State of the Schools Address,” set a goal for reading proficiency in third grade to a mere 39 percent. Apparently, getting just over one-third of third graders to an acceptable reading level would be an improvement worthy of celebration for public school administrators — but it’s an absolute travesty for the thousands of families who are being failed by a bigotry of low expectations within the system. With a budget of nearly $3 billion for CCSD, taxpayers are simply not getting much for their money and kids are not getting the education they deserve.
This is one of the many reasons parents have been pushing for educational alternatives in this state for almost a decade. Waitlists on charter schools seem to be getting longer by the day as parents clamor for alternatives, and more than 70 percent of Americans believe families should be allowed to take the public funding for their child’s education elsewhere if their local public school isn’t providing adequate education.
And now, after 18 months of failed online learning for many students during the pandemic, the idea that parents should simply wait around for politicians to fix what has been wrong with education has become even more intolerable. Years of political posturing, funding increases and administrative reshuffling hasn’t delivered an educational system that provides students with the level of academic success they deserve — and, as a result, it’s well beyond time to empower parents with a direct say in how our education dollars are actually being spent. That is why Education Freedom for Nevada PAC filed an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court last week challenging a lower court’s ruling against our proposed ballot measure. The initiative would allow Nevadans to vote for the creation of Education Freedom Accounts, which would permit families to use a portion of the per pupil funding to pay eligible providers for educational services.
We won our motion to expedite the appeal and defeated a motion by the opposition to have our appeal dismissed. The case could be heard by the higher court in the next couple of weeks, getting parents one step closer to having their voice heard on the ballot.
Given how profoundly lawmakers have failed our children over the years, the mere act of giving Nevada families the ability to weigh in on this issue during the election would, in and of itself, be a massive step forward for accountability in education.
The truth is, our broken and dysfunctional public education system is failing to serve thousands of children — just as it has for decades. And while the education establishment insists we simply approve another funding increase or wait for some new multi-year plan to be implemented to marginally boost reading levels, an entire generation of Nevada children are suffering in a system that is fundamentally failing to prepare them for a successful future.
Expecting our elected officials to fix this system by doing the same thing year after year hasn’t worked for us in the past. That’s why it’s well past time to let Nevadans finally have an opportunity to vote directly on a proposal that actually will.
- Opinion: Let Parents Vote Directly On Education Reform - June 14, 2022