Why I’m running:
As son of a public school teacher, a father of two daughters who attended public schools, and now a grandfather of a current public-school student, I am personally and deeply committed to improving outcomes both for Nevada’s students and their hard-working teachers.
While I am fortunate to have enjoyed success as an entrepreneur and business leader, and honor the sacrifices of others who have successfully built businesses and created rewarding jobs, I also recognize the influence of other factors in success. Despite best efforts, opportunity to succeed is not always equally spread; being born into wealth imparts significant advantages that should be recognized. One of these advantages is the quality and funding of public schools. According to the annual report of the Education Law Center of Rutgers University, Nevada schools serving poorer communities receive funding and experience teacher-student ratios that are 29 percent lower than schools serving wealthier communities. In addition, recruiting and retention of quality educators is hampered by the exaggerated role of standardized testing in our public schools. Additionally, increasing the flexibility and control of teachers in the classroom and appropriately reducing the weight placed on standardized testing, will help reduce teacher frustrations that lead many to exit the profession.
We are fortunate that Gov Sandoval and the 2015 Legislature had the courage to approve over $800 million in additional K-12 funding, by drafting and passing SB252 and SB483. Using these funds to effectively address some of our most pressing shortfalls is one of the largest challenges we face. Addressing the funding imbalance between schools in wealthy and underserved communities, while providing educators additional support they need is key to recruiting and retaining more high-quality, fully-licensed teachers. Strategic compensation to reward and incentivize teachers to work in underserved schools and in-demand specialties, such as special education and mathematics, will be important, as will support for teacher improvement programs, such as Peer Assistance and Review and professional development initiatives.
The Nevada Board of Education will also likely have to make key decisions on how to implement the decentralization of the Clark County School District, as authorized in 2015 by AB394. If committee proposals are approved by the Nevada Legislature in the 2017 session, the BOE will then have the responsibility of implementing this significant effort. We will need to do so in a way that achieves the efficiencies and responsiveness that smaller organizations can bring, while avoiding the loss of efficiencies of scale, and while ensuring that schools serving less affluent neighborhoods are not harmed in the process.
I ask for your vote, and pledge to provide leadership and initiative in backing improvements that will improve both student and teacher outcomes in Nevada.