Education board candidates debate
September 23, 2004
Board of Education candidates Dave Cook and Barbara Myers agree meeting the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law is one of the biggest challenges facing Nevada educators for the next few years.
“No Child Left Behind has created a huge challenge for local school districts,” said Cook, who is trying to take back the seat Myers took from him four years ago.
The two participated in the League of Women Voters candidate forum Thursday evening.
He said the State Board of Education’s control is in its power over the statewide tests given to Nevada public school students and he said that means it’s time to look at the content of those tests and make sure they are appropriate at all grades.
He said the problems Nevada students have passing the math proficiency exam can be helped by letting them pass it in sections. He also called for more funds for reading and math specialists in the schools.
Myers, a school teacher, said success resolves around how Nevada implements remedial education in the schools. She said that means improving pre-school programs and getting children into classes where they receive real lessons earlier. To that end, she said children should be required to start school at age 6 instead of 7 as permitted in current law.
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She also said Cook is wrong in suggesting the state board can control some local expenditures. She said they don’t have that power and that local districts decide priorities for their money.
Asked what they would do to keep students from dropping out, Cook said children who drop out in high school really stopped participating before then.
“We lose our children in middle school. They just end up dropping out in high school.”
He said more emphasis on at risk students must be focused in middle and elementary grades.
Myers said she believes better occupational education would help keep some of those students along with improvements in special education and English as a second language classes.
The two differed on whether those who can’t pass all the proficiency exams should go through graduation. Myers said they should get to “walk at graduation” with their peers even though they don’t get the full diploma. Cook said that’s a local decision by each school board and the state should stay out of it.
On the subject of proposals to improve education funding, Myers said the state board, including herself, supports Education First and the concept of funding Nevada schools at the national average.
Cook said the national average ballot question would be “an economic catastrophe” for Nevada at more than $600 million a year. And he said he’s not convinced more money is the answer to improving education.
Contact Reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.