Nevada’s new educational solution: Fewer school days!

Victor Joecks

Educational achievement in Nevada is dismal. Our high school dropout rate is the worst in the nation. “Nevada’s 4th and 8th graders placed no higher than 43rd in math or reading on any of the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams.

This poor performance exists despite nearly tripling inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending over the last 50 years.

So naturally, the Legislative Committee on Education decided yesterday to move forward on a proposal to eliminate up to 10 school days a year. Not. A. Joke.

The committee did decide to recommend that the 2011 Legislature change state laws to give school districts the flexibility to shorten their school years.

The state now mandates a school year of 180 days.

The proposal would allow the state superintendent of public instruction to allow schools to cut as many as 10 days in times of “economic hardship.”

Joyce Haldeman, associate superintendent of community and government relations for the Clark County School District, said the proposal could save jobs for teachers and other personnel.

If unions do not agree to “shared sacrifices,” or reducing pay, school personnel would have to be laid off, Haldeman said. But the Clark County district can secure $9 million for each day it cuts from the year, and those funds could be used to avoid layoffs.

Please remind me again why we fund schools: Is it to educate children or to fund jobs for adults? This story makes me think some Nevada legislators believe it’s the latter.

There are proven alternatives as well. At that hearing, NPRI’s Patrick Gibbons presented 28 different recommendations for reform. And reforms like the ones he presented have a proven track record of success. Look no further than Florida, which implemented a host of free-market education reforms in 1998.

Florida vs. Nevada in 4th grade reading scores
More charts after the jump.

Florida's low-income students vs. all Nevada students in 4th grade reading scores

Florida's Hispanic students vs. all Nevada students in 4th grade reading scores

Florida's African-American students vs. all Nevada students in 4th grade reading scores