Lately I have been contemplating the decision I made to relocate to Nevada after thoroughly researching the state and spending a week in Carson City. Today I am savoring the first year I spent in Carson City and wish some things were the same as they were then.
I moved here in 1995, excited and enthusiastic about getting settled. I was happy. Nevada is a beautiful state with a plethora of natural wonders. There are many talented people here who love it as well. Too many of them are now unemployed.
During my decision-making process, I learned a lot about Nevada from multiple sources. I loved that it was relatively small and had something for everyone to enjoy. Las Vegas was too glitzy for me, frenzied and saturated with spectacular casinos and maddening traffic. Carson City is quaint, historic and very friendly. The State Capitol, Archives and Museum are huge assets. The proximity to Lake Tahoe is another plus.
I had learned that the quality of education in Nevada was slipping and felt a challenge that would be in line with my passion.
The interviews I had with the state Department of Education and schools here and in Reno all required a credential. The process of securing a credential was grueling and went on for months. It should be streamlined and include reciprocity with other states.
I finally got a credential. As fate would have it, I was in a debilitating accident just before the license arrived that handicapped me. I knew I could not walk around my classroom, as is my style. The credential, however, allowed me to tutor several students over the years.
Recently I was one of several women who taught a reading course to parents and their children. It was sponsored by the Republican Women’s Club and open to everyone. Twenty-one students and their parents attended the weeklong program.
I inquired why the school district was not involved. The coordinator was told the teachers did not think they had time to promote this valuable program. The tax money to fund our schools amounts to more than $10,000 per student, higher than the national average. I wonder why a free supplemental program is ignored.
The program is designed to get parents and children involved together to learn reading skills. I have used this approach with several students from four continents. It works for all languages! This cooperative, non-graded endeavor only enhances the educational experience.
Our state ranks 50th in quality of education, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book. Why? Children’s health and general well-being are ranked 48th and 47th, respectively. What has happened to Nevada’s education system? Haven’t we put millions if not billions of dollars into it? Money does not improve the quality of education. Commitment, high standards and working hand in hand are far more valuable. Our schools need to return to academic institutions. The socialization will come naturally when students learn to think and weigh decisions about their lives. Mediocrity is simply not good enough for our children, the future of our country. Excellence is what we have to stress.
WE, THE PEOPLE, who pay high taxes for the education of our children, should insist on quality first and foremost in the classroom.
Ann Bednarski is a retired educator and journalist.