Assemblywoman Koivisto: Please close the schools that fail to educate children

Patrick Gibbons

At a recent legislative hearing, a witness remarked that Nevada should cut taxes and spending. A sound solution, considering there are few, if any, examples in history where cutting taxes and government spending actually hurt the economy.

Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto (D, Clark County 14), however, responded briskly. She asked, "Which elementary, middle and high schools we should close because we have no money to keep them open?"

First, Nevada has plenty of money. The governor's proposed budget will spend approximately $9 billion in a single year—about $3 billion will come from the General Fund. As has often been pointed out, the true situation facing the state only concerned a 1 percent decrease in spending (now a 5 percent increase in spending, "thanks" to a federal stimulus). The real question isn't how much we spend, but how efficiently we spend it. Unfortunately, many politicians want to increase taxes without ever answering that question.

But to answer Koivisto's question, of which schools to close, the answer is simple: Close the poorly performing schools. They aren't helping students.

When businesses fail to satisfy customers, those customers don't return. Either a company will figure out how to attract and keep customers—or it will go out of business. Public schools, on the other hand, are not held accountable for their results, since most parents have no choice regarding where or how their child is educated. Schools that fail face no threat of closing, because their funding is not tied to satisfying parents or actually educating students.

Nevada can remedy this error by offering each student in a failing school a scholarship to attend the school of his or her choice—whether private or public. If a school's attendance rate drops significantly because students have chosen to leave the school, then that public school should be closed. Like businesses that can't convince customers to shop in their stores are closed, so should schools that cannot convince parents that they can educate children.

Below is a list of Nevada schools that have been listed as "In Need of Improvement" for three or more years. A school that has been so designated for three or more years has failed to make "Adequately Yearly Progress" for at least four years. "Needs Improvement" is the nice way of saying: "You've failed to teach your students adequately."

Simply giving schools a verbal designation does little to spur achievement or innovation. But when faced with competition-as when students in failing schools are offered scholarships to attend private schools-traditional public schools are forced to reform and actually start educating their children. Some of such schools will be forced to close, but most will figure out ways to raise their game significantly and teach their students.

Again: Schools that fail to teach students should be closed. Assemblywoman Koivisto, here is the list of schools you asked for-those that could be shut down:

Carson City

Empire Elementary School
Carson Middle School

Churchill County

Churchill County High School

Clark County

Adams Elementary School
Carson Elementary School
Cozine Elementary School
Craig Elementary School
Cunningham Elementary School
Elizondo Elementary School
Fitzgerald Elementary School
Fong Elementary School
Harris Elementary School
Herr Elementary School
Herron Elementary School
Hollingsworth Elementary School
Lake Elementary School
Long Elementary School
Manch Elementary School
McCaw Elementary School
McWilliams Elementary School
Pittman Elementary School
Priest Elementary School
Reed Elementary School
Ronnow Edison Elementary School
Rundle Elementary School
Stanford Elementary School
Tate Elementary School
Robert Taylor Elementary School
Warren Elementary School
Watson Elementary School
Wengert Elementary School
Tom Williams Elementary School
Wooley Elementary School
Wynn Elementary School
Bridger Middle School
Brinley Middle School
Brown Jr. High School
Cashman Middle School
Cortney Jr. High School
Cram Middle School
Fremont Middle School
Garside Jr. High School
Gibson Middle School
Harney Middle School
Johnson Jr. High
Keller Middle School
Knudson Middle School
Lied Middle School
Monaco Middle School
O Callaghan Middle School
Robison Middle School
Sawyer Middle School
Sedway Middle School
Swainston Middle School
Von Tobel Middle School
Washington Continuation Jr. High School
West Preparatory Academy Middle School
White Middle School
Woodbury Middle School
Clark High School
Academy for Individualized Study
Basic High School
Bonanza High School
Burk Horizon Southwest High School
Chaparral High School
Cheyenne High School
Cowan Behavioral Jr. Sr. High School
Del Sol High School
Desert Pines High School
Durango High School
Eldorado High School
Las Vegas High School
Mojave High School
Palo Verde High School
Rancho High School
Silverado High School
Summit View Junior/Senior High School
Valley High School
Western High School

Elko County

Northside Elementary School
Southside Elementary School
West Wendover Elementary School
Owyhee Jr. High School

Nye County

Rosemary Clarke Middle School

Washoe County

Libby C. Booth Elementary School
Rita Cannan Elementary School
Katherine Dunn Elementary School
Lemmon Valley Elementary School
Virginia Palmer Elementary School
Silver Lake Elementary School
Smithridge Elementary School
Sun Valley Elementary School
Veterans Memorial Elementary School
William O Brien Middle School
Fred W. Traner Middle School
Washoe Middle School
North Valleys High School
Sparks High School
Washoe High School