EUGENE PASLOV: Rory Reid’s plan shows promise for educational improvement in Nevada
We must reinvent Nevada’s public schools. Its governance system is badly bent and it is seriously underfunded in its efforts to produce the kinds of student results needed for the state’s economic future.
President Obama’s Race to the Top, Secretary Duncan’s call for good charter schools and the exceptional work of some traditional public schools around the country – Nevada included – hold great promise for helping Nevada policymakers reinvent our public schools.
Forget about vouchers; this is code for those who want to destroy our public schools. Think about rigorous international standards for all; contemplate innovation, technology, creative non-traditional teacher/student interactions and control of policy as close to the learners as possible. This is a winning formula.
The Nevada school population has decreased. However, lest anyone think the K-12 student population decline will ease the financial burden on the schools, it doesn’t work that way. Costs continue to escalate. Investment in our children’s future is expensive. Without adequate funding and courage to change, our schools will fail.
Our public schools are the intellectual backbone of our state and nation. If we look at the 19th century Kalamazoo Decision, which required compulsory school attendance, we see an emphasis on improving literacy. In the 20th century, after WWII, there was a dynamic push for high school graduation and college education. The nation sought to improve workforce technical skills and drive the engine of economic change. The G.I. Bill of Rights was a massive federal stimulus toward this effort.
The result of this national public school reinvention was the United States becoming the greatest political and industrial power in the world. But, if we don’t make creative improvements in our public schools now, if we don’t reinvent our schools now, we will fail. It is time to redesign our schools for the needs of the 21st century. Our competitors have taken note.
In my view Rory Reid has given more thought to his education improvement plan than his opponent. He believes in creative instructional techniques, and responsibility/accountability for rigorous academic performance. Good schools and staff would be rewarded; those that do not perform well would get help. If the schools were not successful they would be discontinued.
Our two gubernatorial candidates have not yet dealt with the cost consequences. They both hope their plans will produce savings, and they will not have to go for increased funding. Perhaps, but I doubt it.
Let’s focus on Rory Reid’s efforts and help him work with local, state and federal policymakers to creatively reinvent Nevada’s public schools for this century.
• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.