By Mark Hutchison and Ross Miller
Lt. Governor and Former Nevada Secretary of State
The 2015 legislative session was historic. Gov. Brian Sandoval proposed 26 measures to improve our state’s public schools and pushed for money to educate our children and future workforce. By the end of the 120-day session, 25 of the proposed reforms passed with the revenue to pay for them.
Other significant education bills also were passed, earning the session’s participants acclaim from across the country for adopting some of the most significant public school reform measures by any state in recent years. We should be proud of our efforts, but it would be a mistake if Nevadans believed that our work’s complete. Instead, a simple question should be asked in every school and every home in our state: “What’s Next Nevada?”
The challenges facing our education system are well-documented. They will require that all Nevadans – politicians, educators, employers, community leaders, parents and taxpayers – push for policies that will lead to greater classroom successes for our children, which will prepare them to thrive in the workplace and family life. Our schools are the key to that future.
It is in that spirit that we are jointly leading a new project: “What’s Next Nevada?” The key players include Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky; Washoe County School District Superintendent Traci Davis; the Governor’s Chief Strategy Officer Dale Erquiaga; the Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education Dan Klaich; and the Executive Director of the Clark County Education Association John Vellardita.
“What’s Next Nevada” will tackle one of the most pressing problems facing our state: developing the next generation of principals and teachers.
Every reform passed during the 2015 session requires highly effective teachers and principals to implement them. If students are to fully realize the promise of these reforms, we must have a terrific principal in every school and a great teacher in every classroom. But that is not the case today.
Nevada has nearly 700 classrooms without full-time licensed teachers. That’s thousands of students sitting in classrooms without the best teachers, a crisis that is harming our children and our state’s social and economic security. We must take immediate action if Nevada is to successfully compete as a state nationally and globally in the coming decades.
We are working with Nevada Succeeds, a business-led education policy group, to assemble a diverse team from across the state with expertise in multiple disciplines, to develop recommendations in three areas to train top-notch teachers and principals. They are Leadership Recruitment and Training; Teacher Recruitment and Training; and School Culture and Design.
“What’s Next Nevada” is dedicated to ensure that every Nevada school is staffed by all-star teachers and leaders. The people pursuing these changes understand the urgency with which we must proceed. Every day that passes with children sitting in classrooms inadequately staffed is another day that delays the promise of a New Nevada for our children, grandchildren and neighbors. Our parents and grandparents took care of us. We must do the same for the youngest Nevadans. If we do, Nevada and all Nevadans succeed.