Rogers’ speech might not be far off base |

Rogers’ speech might not be far off base

Nevada Appeal Editorial

“Horribly and fatally” undereducated? Well, maybe that hillbilly casino is a better image fit for Nevada than even its proponents had figured – if those words about the state by Chancellor Jim Rogers are based in truth rather than hyperbole. It’s Jim Rogers, after all, a man prone to bombastic words and actions.

Unfortunately, there’s plenty of evidence to support the gist of his message, if not quite his choice of words. You could look at any of a number of state rankings on education and find that we’re not very high on any of them. You can find flaws in some of those findings, but it’s hard to ignore their consistency.

The true test of education is when students enter the work force, and it is no secret that Northern Nevada companies seeking to hire skilled workers are perennially frustrated by whom they have to choose from.

The problem was already defined before Rogers spoke this week. It was a major focus of the Legislature, which took baby steps in the right direction to correct it. It will take many more of those small steps before Nevada moves very far up the rankings.

Paying teachers more? A positive step … attracting better teachers will equate to higher achieving students. Empowering schools to customize their curriculum? Another step that, if it lives up to the governor’s billing, could make a difference. All-day kindergarten? A positive step in instilling the value of education early in students who don’t get that message from their families.

The state has spent a lot of money to take those steps and will likely have to spend much more to solve the problem. It’s inescapable that many of the states that report high test scores and student proficiency also rank high in the funding they devote to education.

Meaningful reform and accountability will be keys to improving education in Nevada, and they seldom come cheap.