Live blogging the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group meeting: August 6, 2010

Victor Joecks

1:21 update – Thanks to everyone for reading. I’m going to be posting the handout from Moody’s very shortly. The handout is the outline of the rough draft of the stakeholders group report. As NPRI has predicted — before the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group even existed — this outline is a wish list for union members and government officials.

Another meeting of the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group. The agenda is here, and you can watch it live online here.

9:06 Lang starts off acknowledging that part of the tax study won’t be accomplished. Says it doesn’t concern the NVSG and its agenda.

9:08 Lang: No formal testimony previously on education, so that’s what’s on the agenda today. Lack of human capital (through education) holding back Nevada today.

9:09 Lang trying to justify spending more on higher ed. If you spend enough, eventually the feds or private endowments will pay for them.

9:11 Lang says UNLV is funded like Cal State schools.

9:13 Only 13 members of the NVSG and its alternates are here today. The NVSG has 19 members, Chairman Lang and several alternates. Given that it’s summer, the low turnout is understandable.

9:16 The real question is where’s Moody’s? The only non-stakeholder person up front is Dave Ziegler of the LCB.

9:18 Presentation from the Nevada System of Higher Education laments that only 1 in 10 of Nevada’s high school freshman will graduate college within 6 years of higher education schooling.

9:24 Random employment stat: Government jobs are the third biggest “employment by occupation” category in Nevada.

9:35 NSHE representative gives a pretty standard presentation — we need to send more kids to college, etc… which is really code for give us more money. Also says she wants to create a “college-going culture.”

This is the kind of generic rhetoric that is either worthless (over-broad) or just code words for give us more money (or as they like to call it: investment). Always easier to invest someone else’s money.

9:38 Apparently Chancellor Klaich is presenting a statewide plan in the upcoming weeks for higher ed.

9:40 NVSG member Rene Canto Jr asks the obvious question — how do you move beyond the platitudes? NSHE rep: I don’t know. We’re going to try new ways.

That sums up this presentation perfectly.

9:43 NSHE rep: We are very serious about making changes.

Okay, I’m convinced — look they’re very serious.

9:48 NSHE rep says Nevada is “very young,” in regards to higher ed.

9:50 Doug Busselman: Why aren’t we getting results from the money we’re already spending.

Great question.

9:51 NSHE rep: We haven’t done a good enough job in the state building the need for a college degree.

Reminder average college student leaves with $23,200 in debt.

9:53 Lang: No state regrets investing in higher education. Cites North Carolina.

Praises Arizona for raising sales tax rate for education. Praises Arizona State University.

“Made investments” continues to be standard code words for raising taxes.

9:56 Other reminder Lang works for an organization (UNLV) that would directly benefit from this “investment.”

9:59 Elaine Wynn is calling in to give testimony on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Education Task Force (K-12), per Sen. Horsford’s request.

10:02 Complains that once they opened up their meetings to the public only a few people showed up.

10:05 Wynn: A child born in Nevada has the least chance of succeeding of a child born in any other state.

Reminder: The failure of education in Nevada isn’t the result of overspending, because over the last 50 years Nevada has nearly tripled inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending over the last 50 years, but results have been stagnate.

10:07 Wynn says an agreement is in place to expand charter schools.

Hadn’t heard that yet.

10:09 Still a lot of platitudes. Says Nevada will be targeting manufacturing in the future.

Wonder how those businesses will like Horsford’s (rumored) new business tax proposal?

10:12 Wynn makes excuses about why Nevada’s Race to the Top application didn’t make the cut. Says there has to be a commitment to funding public education.

Is a 180 percent increase in inflation-adjusted, per-pupil funding not enough? How much more does the educational establishment want before we can hold them accountable for how they spend our money?

10:18 Marsha Irvin: What are the action steps? (Good question)
Wynn says staff will get back to her.

10:22 I think Lang is trying not to fall asleep. Can’t blame him, so am I.

10:26 Any one have the link to the Blue Ribbon Commission’s Race to the Top application? They say it’s online somewhere.

10:31 Robert Potter (representing the AFSCME, of course) says we need better benefits to attract and hold teachers.

10:34 Wynn is close to saying good things — Nevada has some bad teachers, there’s no silver bullet solution.

10:36 Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault begins testifying. Notes that Nevada’s State Board of Education’s goals are very vague.

10:42 Rheault: Nevada can’t say it values education.

Who is our state? Parents, community members, government? Don’t know.

10:47 So many platitudes. Listing off a bunch of things he hopes will improve student achievement.

Hey, I have an idea! Let’s institute the reforms Florida implemented 12 years ago.

10:56 Lang cuts him off and asks him to get to the long range goals (2030). And of course, the first goal is expanding Pre-K, which only improves student achievement for 1-4 years. (Give me a second to look up studies on this. Here’s one example. Also here. )

11:06 Rene Canto is concerned about the Latino community and education. Anyone interested in minority student achievement should check out Florida’s record.

11:12 Lang’s worried that goals are too lofty!!! What?

Says we should aim to be 45th or 47th. Says it’s an improvement.

My guess: Either this is a react to the last meeting or Horsford doesn’t want the NVSG

11:14 Reheault says Florida is a model! Yes, yes, yes. Says reform mattered, but they achieved also because of higher funding. No, no, no.

It wasn’t about the money, it was about how they spent the money. Read more here.

11:16 Lang asks for key policies of Florida. Reheault: Funded better, held schools accountable, online learning.

Hey, what about stopping social promotion, charter schools and vouchers or scholarships? (Read the full list of Florida’s reforms here.) And if this state is the model for other states, why don’t you, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, know all of their reforms? Why aren’t you trying to implement them in Nevada?

11:21 Lang says final meeting will be in September.

11:22 Up next a report from a private Nevada University, Touro. They’re here at the recommendation of Sen. Horsford. Nothing really to add. Sounds like a nice school of medicine.

11:37 Says Touro tries not to take any legislative money.

11:38 Touro says 135 students in each of their classes. University of Nevada School of Medicine has about 50.

11:39 Lang asks what the committee can do to help. Touro rep says state system can’t address of the state’s needs. Needs regs and laws that encourage the development of private education. When Touro started they couldn’t have a nursing program, because of state regulations.

Basically Nevada needs to stop making it illegal for private colleges to have certain courses.

11:43 Here comes Moody’s to talk about how the voting will work. There rep was here (right in front of me actually, oops), but I don’t think he was taking notes.

Lang again talks about limiting goals.

11:45 Steve Cochran with Moody’s says the deadline for draft report is August 30. Passes out a rough draft. Will try and get a copy and post the pdf online when I get back to the office.

11:48 Moody’s mentions “systematic inquiry” has been helpful, which if you remember last time was Lang’s slang he coined in order to avoid the Open Meetings Law. Although if the conversations were just with Moody’s and one person, I’m not sure if that’s a violation. Will check on that.

11:51 Just received a copy of the rough draft of Moody’s report for the NVSG and yep, it’s a wish list of government spending. Doesn’t have 5-, 10- and 20-year goals yet. Just a broad overview.

11:55 Lang says NVSG members should give input offline, before the next meeting.

11:58 Rob Potter says his systematic inquiry interview is next Tuesday. Ziegler assures Lang these don’t violate the open meeting law.

12:00 Keith Smith notes there’s no 5-, 10- or 20-year plans. Says the NVSG should be focused on strategies not tactics. Lang says final report will include narrative providing rationale.

12:05 Ziegler updates the committee on the contract dates. Draft report from Moody’s must be submitted no later than August 31. Final meeting must be on or before September 10. Final report for Moody’s is due September 15.

12:07 Ray Bacon starts off public comment. Recommends NPRI’s study on Florida. Available here and thanks for the plug. As a result, he says the educational climate in Florida has dramatically improved (via a Chamber of Commerce official in Florida).

12:12 Lang says his 5 minutes are up and Bacon wraps up.

12:13 Patrick Gibbons starts his comment. Has a lot to cover and is talking fast (he’s only got 5 minutes!). But good news, the basis for his comments is here and you can read it at your leisure.

Goes into K-12. Notes pre-K has no long term benefits. But if they are going to do, recommends vouchers. Notes class size reduction is ineffective at improving student achievement.

12:18 And here comes a teachers union official. Says Nevada has a retention problem — half of Nevada educators leave in 3 years. And of course, pay them well, so they’ll stay in the state.

12:20 And meeting adjourned. See you in September.

As this is a live blog, please forgive any spelling errors.