A community activist I respect sent me this boiling e-mail on Sunday after yet another headline in the Review-Journal that screams the Clark County public education establishment is failing our children. Since I've not spoken with the writer, I'll not use a name. But you'll get the picture -- when is enough news of failure going to be enough?
The writer lays much of the reform task at the doorstep of the Review-Journal, which is OK. We have big shoulders around here and we're not afraid of dialog on any community issue. I would only say that when it comes to the media, the Review-Journal is about the only medium to unblinkingly cover education. We fulfill our news role. We don't make excuses or try to cover up the facts. We just report them. For that, the R-J has become a voo doo pin cushion for the education complex -- union and management. But enough of that. We're big kids at the Review-Journal. Here's the letter. I like "mad as hell" letters, and this one is a good one.
'Where's the outrage?'
"I hope this email finds you well.
"I was compelled to email you after, for the 2nd time in two weeks, reading that not only do our high school students have virtually no mastery of math skills, but their compatriots in 8th grade also overwhelmingly failed their own math proficiency exams as well.
"Where's the outrage in all this?
"If the RJ regularly failed to deliver 90% of its newspaper everyday and the casinos failed to have 90% of their rooms ready for guests checking in and 90% of the taxis in town failed to make it out on the roads everyday, we'd all be out of business.
"But when more than 90% of our kids can't do basic math, we just move on and about our day. We are all conditioned for an uneducated Nevada citizenry.
"In the words of Howard Beale, an actor from a popular 1970's movie, I'm "mad as hell and I just can't take it anymore."
"I know its entire community's responsibility to root out the failures of public education--as we ALL own it. But the media plays a critical role here. We read your papers and, for better or worse, you influence the expectations a community has for itself.
"For the sake of our kids, and our community for now and generations to come, its time you blow us all as citizens out of the water. Call the school board Trustees to resign, call for our Superintendent to resign, call for business to step up.....demand a community summit on education now, call for something.....demand for a higher expectation for education in Nevada.
"And keep yelling until the community joins your outcry. We will support you.
"We are all we have got in this community. And your paper talks to more of us everyday than we do to each other.
"Please engage more, deeper and longer than you have.....we need every headline, column and stories telling the facts about where we really are and where we can be if only we decide we want change.
"The RJ has the voice to do this. I ask that you dig in and, well, decide you're also mad as hell and just won't take it anymore."