The Instruction Gap

Executive Summary

Few issues are as important to the future of Nevada as the education of our children. Consequently, Nevada taxpayers — while justifiably skeptical of other government programs — have traditionally been willing to increase funding for education.

A widespread assumption that quality education is inextricably linked to the amount spent within districts and among states, and has led to pressure for increased spending on schools. As a result, public education budgets have progressively increased from year to year. Unfortunately, increased spending has not resulted in improved student achievement as measured by literacy rates or academic achievement. A careful examination of the Nevada Department of Education's spending patterns indicates that Nevada's taxpayers may not be getting what they are paying for with their education dollars.

This study was designed to answer the question: If the instructional share of overall education spending is found to have steadily declined over the last ten years, how has the funding been redistributed and what impact (or lack, thereof) has this had on student outcome as measured by SAT scores? The results of this study will shed light on shifting spending priorities within the state's schools and aid in legislative budgeting decisions made during the 1995 session and beyond.

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Judy Cresanta

Judy Cresanta

Nevada Policy Founder

Judy Cresanta founded the Nevada Policy Research Institute in the early 1990s following a life-changing trip to the former Soviet Union to educate pro-democracy leaders about free markets and free elections. Her inspirations included Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation; Jeff Coors of Coors Brewing and the Castle Rock Foundation; Bill Bennett, former secretary of education under President Reagan; and Morton Blackwell of the Council for National Policy. Ms. Cresanta served as the Institute’s president until 2001.

Nevada Policy was established as Nevada’s first free-market think tank, with the goal of confronting the state’s many eroding institutions, including government, the education establishment, the media and academia, with straight-forward, well researched information that would keep the public armed with the truth. The absence of truth, Ms. Cresanta learned while in the former Soviet Union, allows the state to enslave its citizens. Under Ms. Cresanta’s leadership, Nevada Policy worked with some of the top individuals and organizations from around Nevada and the nation to perform compelling research and provide it to the Silver State’s citizens and policymakers.

Ms. Cresanta has an undergraduate degree from St. Louis University and Masters Degrees in Public Policy and Public Administration from the University of Nevada, Reno.