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Opinion: Who will guide our children’s future?



By Jim Gibbons

The path to our children’s future should be guided by those who know them best.

As governor, I am committed to improving Nevada’s education system by empowering local control of our schools. Every candidate running for governor talks about reform, but I am fighting today for real change.

Right now we spend billions of tax dollars on an education system that was structured more than 100 years ago. Tax money that should go to schools and classrooms is sidetracked into a bureaucratic wasteland controlled by mandates from Washington, D.C., Carson City and unions. Over the last 100 years, society, technology and industry have dramatically changed. We need to modernize our K-12 and higher education systems to not only educate our children but also to prepare them for life in the 21st century. The expectations and needs of Nevada industries have changed, and our education system must change with them.

The only sure path to economic recovery in Nevada is to partner education and industry so that from preschool to college we can align our education system with the needs of the current job market and the workforce of the future. To bring new businesses to Nevada, we need an education system which will provide the skilled and educated workforce those industries need. Education is the intellectual infrastructure of our future.

By encouraging more parental involvement and engaging incoming high school freshmen, we can direct children to the educational or career track that most interests them. This serves many purposes. First, keeping our children’s interest will increase our graduation rate and decrease our dropout rate. Second, engaging students in the appropriate college or career prep courses will prepare them for success after graduation, whether it is college, post-secondary education or workforce entry.

Last month I created the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Education Reform Task Force. This panel of educators and business experts is working to transform Nevada’s education system to prepare graduates to be the intellectual infrastructure for the economic recovery which will bring prosperity back to Nevada.

Today, 23 percent of Nevada’s schools are designated as underachieving. We need to stop supporting systems that have failed our children for decades and commit to a bold path of reform.

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