Nevada’s next governor needs to preserve categorical funding for education and give school districts the ability to remove ineffective principals. Universal school choice, however, gives money to well-off families that would be better spent in public schools. That’s according to Education Nevada Now policy director Sylvia Lazos.
“I love [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Chris [Giunchigliani] a whole lot, but I don’t agree with her on [eliminating categorical funding],” said Lazos while filming Nevada Politics Today. The reason Nevada has “categorical funding is because it fences out funding that is going to be targeted, dedicated and high accountability.
“If Chris G. has her way and puts all that categorical money into the general fund, here in Clark County where we have 60,000 ELL children, the amount of per-pupil that each child would get would be down to $80 per kid.”
Lazos expressed support for collective bargaining, but said that unions need to do more to ensure accountability.
“I’m a big believer in collective bargaining, but I do believe that the unions have to come to the table and work on a relationship where the taxpayers of Nevada can expect return on their taxpayer dollars,” she said. “They need to also understand that we have a problem of leadership, particularly at these lower income schools.”
She suggested changing collective bargaining so that principals could be demoted for low performance without triggering the grievance process.
Lazos also supports more funding for education. When asked why states like Massachusetts continue to push for more school funding despite spending 65 percent more per-pupil than Nevada, Lazos said it’s because of their goals are different.
“I think that Massachusetts is a good example, because they’re actually pretty good on accountability,” said Lazos. “I would say that they don’t have problems. They want to achieve something with their educational system that we’re not even talking about here in Nevada.”
One of Lazos’ children attends a private school, but Lazos doesn’t support Education Savings Accounts that would help more students attend private schools. “I am not against families making choices. I think that’s the most important job of a parent, but I don’t think we should be using public money, particularly money that would have gone to Clark County (School District).”
Lazos sees a difference, however, between universal ESAs and those limited to low-income families. “I think then we’re in a different territory. I think we would add to that the whole idea of accountability.”