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VICTOR JOECKS: CCSD continues to fail. This is how you fix education in Nevada.

If you want to be depressed, look at the Clark County School District’s goals for this school year.

For third-grade reading, the goal is that 39.2 percent of students to be proficient. If that’s not enough to make you cry, look at the metrics for various groups. For African American students, the goal is 25.1 percent. For Hispanic students, it’s 32.7 percent.

It’s worse in math. For all sixth through eighth graders, the objective is proficiency for 25.3 percent of students. That falls to 10 percent for black students and 17.5 percent for Hispanic students.

Imagine you have five children. Per the district, success would be defined as two of your children being proficient in reading and roughly one child being up to speed in math. That’s horrifying.

Even if the district “succeeds,” most children will fail. No wonder Superintendent Jesus Jara gutted grading standards. Parents would be furious if grades reflected the reality of how little students know. Better to keep parents ignorant than to face their wrath.


The district would likely blame these low goals on the learning loss caused by remote schooling. If achieved, these goals would eliminate half the decrease that occurred from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

Achievement was higher before the pandemic. But it was still low. Fewer than 47 percent of third graders were proficient in reading in 2018-19. Sixth- through eighth-grade math proficiency was 31 percent.

Shutting schools down was a choice, too. Schools in Europe and places such as Florida were open in fall 2020. Also, Jara refused to retain kids who didn’t learn enough the past school year.

Shame. Shame.

It should be obvious that giving these bureaucrats more money or power won’t fix education in Nevada. They’ll pontificate about the need to be “anti-racist” while overseeing education outcomes only a racist could approve of.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

Nevada needs school choice. Allow parents to control some of the money the government already spends. Let parents spend it on private schools, home-schooling or online classes. Anything but this.

Voters may get a chance to approve just that. At the end of January, the Education Freedom PAC filed a constitutional amendment to create “education freedom accounts.” Those accounts would receive funding comparable to what Nevada spends on a child in public school, around $7,000. The last line of the proposal does need tightening, as it allows lawmakers to set eligibility criteria for parents. Democrats could use that to gut the program. The proposal could and should be refiled with better language.

A companion statutory initiative provides more details on the accounts. But because of a rule limiting ballot questions to a single-subject, it can’t authorize funding.

That means it’s the constitutional amendment or bust.

Undoubtedly, the teachers union or another education establishment group will challenge it in court. A June deadline for signatures is approaching. Gathering signatures will likely cost well more than $1 million.

Guy Nohra, a well-off businessman who’s largely self-funding his run for governor, announced he gave $25,000 toward the effort. It’s rare and commendable for a candidate to back up his rhetoric with money. If Nohra is going to spend $5 million in the primary, he should fully fund the signature gathering after ensuring the language is tightened.

It would create a compelling reason for his candidacy that ads can’t buy. Plus, it’d be a bigger accomplishment than he could achieve as governor if Democrats maintain legislative majorities. Even if he doesn’t get the nomination, promoting the amendment would keep him in the public eye for the next two years. A qualified amendment must receive voter approval in 2022 and 2024. That would be a natural platform for future political ventures.

This constitutional amendment faces long odds of making the ballot. But unlike more money, it would actually improve education in Nevada.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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