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Havenít seen you for awhile and thought we should touch base. Youíre a highly-popular leader of Nevada as evidenced by the fact that nobody else seems to want to run against you.
I guess that means that youíre a talented soul who knows politics well enough to know where to step or when to hop over the challenge.
However, Iím concerned about an award that the Silver State receives just when things seem to be going well. See, Iím not sure if you have noticed or not, but some feel that everyone in the state Ė and especially teachers -- have got egg all over their faces now that the state has once again received the honor for having the worst education in the country.
I checked your website and found something called On The Issues and education is addressed with some very good points.
The problem is that those with influential horsepower arenít reacting to a huge black eye that may or may not be deserved. You see, in a world where communication is so vital, nobody is explaining the rating by Education Week, or at least that I know of.
More people are shrugging their shoulders than anything else simply because the continued rating is not only misunderstood but mind-boggling at the same time. Nevada teachers say that the state offers its own set of variables that every one of them faces every single day.
In other words, if youíre a teacher, youíre facing the reality that a huge percentage of students that speak a language other than English, so the teacher has even more challenges.
Then, too, there are an immense number of students from single-parent Ė or no parent Ė families that teachers experience on a daily basis. You have some of the most dedicated people ever now reporting to schools every day to help these kids gain their education.
Add in the fact that an unbelievable number of students live in the back of cars or in a residence with no utilities since the power, gas and water have all been shut off because of the lack of payment.
When youíre a teacher, you not just offering basic education, but youíre also serving as a guardian for kids that donít have anything other than the clothes on their backs.
Remember the time we toured Whitney Elementary School near East Tropicana and Boulder Highway in Las Vegas? It was an eye-opening experience, for sure, especially since students with nothing are often times more polite and thankful than students who have everything and come from wealthy families.
We will never forget seeing the students walking down the hallway saying hello to all of us en route to their classrooms. In the same breath, weíll never forget the teachers working to help the students and I know Iíll never forget visiting classrooms and seeing every single one of the students participating in the class.
You see, itís easy when you have everything although many with golden spoons donít appreciate what they have. Eighty percent of the students at Whitney Elementary are homeless and when school is not in session, theyíre on the streets facing all forms of elements ranging from heat to cold to wind and blowing dust.
Itís not easy being a teacher and itís damned sure not easy being an administrator in Nevada and especially in Southern Nevada. When politicians run for office, they often complain about the brutality of the campaigns, but thatís nothing compared to trying to survive as a young person when many the essentials in your life are a rarity.
I have the feeling the communications out of your office would have been handled differently if former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman had decided to run for the office.
You see, Goodman would have been on the phone with reporters and assignment desk editors asking to speak with them. He would have offered solutions for the problem if the study was true and dispelled the study if it were wrong.
Goodman would have either ripped the rating or he would have admitted the Silver State had a true weakness while offering solutions.
Especially in Nevada, PR can be gold and it can also be damaging. From what Iím hearing, with all of the good news about new jobs in Nevada, the bad news is that our poor ratings in education are keeping the big dogs of business out of our state.
This entire scenario kind of reminds me of the UNLV basketball team. The team is usually filled with talent, but the unfortunate lacking element is enthusiasm.
Kind of reminds me of whatís wrong with Nevada when the stateís leaders are leveled with ratings such as the latest regarding education.
I canít seem to find any enthusiasm to object to the cause although I again loved the fact that you addressed the disaster at Mt. Charleston where floods have ravished a community there. You were right-on by immediately traveling to the area to talk with distressed residents who feel victimized by the latest storms.
Now weíre learning that the Clark County Commission apparently failed to act on a chance to prevent against floods apparently because it was worried about liability. Thatís really interesting considering the liability now faced by the residents and maybe even by the commission.
Your interviews with Southern Nevada television stations reflected a caring politician who admitted that residents have every right to be upset with what has happened. You promised to see what can be done and I hope that you join forces with the county and the state to spare residents even more losses.
One challenge Ė flooding at Mt. Charleston -- is visual and disheartening while the other Ė again being rated dead-last in education Ė is just as bad because it is affecting an entire state as it attempts to attract badly-needed job growth. Unfortunately, photo ops are nearly as prevalent for education as they are for floods.
All that said, I really hope your staff includes individuals who recognize the need for a governor who gets on the phone and starts making phone calls to every media outlet in the state announcing press conferences. You see if the rating of our education system is correct, it needs to be dealt with and if itís wrong, it really needs to be addressed.
No matter how we all look at it, I have this feeling that the rating is not only sad, but it just might be downright wrong.
Either way, silence is deafening, so start making some noise.
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