August 10, 2011
According to Morgan Quitno Press, a state and city ranking publication, the state of Nevada has been continuously ranked in the bottom five when it comes to education. Just recently, reports by the Las Vegas Sun have been released that 48% of high school sophomores failed the reading comprehension component of the Nevada Proficiency Exam. While school officials claim that this is due to a new format of the exam more tailored to reading comprehension than was before, this is still troubling news since Nevada’s youth consistently rank lower in examinations relative to other states. A major reason behind this is due to the fact that Nevada has generally given education funding a lower priority when determining the budget. Unfortunately, when the level of education tends to be low in a state, the economy tends to follow and be relatively weak or, at best, unstable. Education and the economy have a strong relation between each other. An educated workforce is the backbone and driving force of a thriving economy; however, states that insufficiently fund their departments of education tend to have less educated populations. As Nelson Fabian explains in Managing Editors Desk article, “A healthy economy is underpinned by a well-educated workforce. An educated workforce infuses inventiveness, productivity, research aspirations, quality products, efficiency, competitiveness, and sound decision making into an economy” (58). [MORE EVIDENCE]. The Atlantic, a magazine that focuses on politics and the economy, reported in a article the top states in America that have one of the best economies. The top five on their list included Wyoming, North Dakota, Iowa, Vermont, and Minnesota. According to statistics from Measuring Up, a credible organization funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, those same five states also received in A- or higher grade in terms of completing college, where a high number of their population holds a bachelors degree. Measuring Up collects data from all fifty states in the country and grades each states education within different categories, including high school and college level. Nevada’s unstable economy coincides with their grade given by Measuring Up as they received in F in completion of college and high school. As a result of the 2007 recession that almost sent the United Sates’ economy into complete turmoil, many states were forced to make budget cuts to many crucial programs and Nevada was no exception. In fact, Nevada stood out as making some of the biggest cuts to education, both K-12 and higher; the state was even being profiled in the national media for the extremity of the cuts. The results of such dramatic cuts can only spell out catastrophe for an already precariously positioned economy. [HOW? EXAMPLES?] Nevada needs an educated workforce to help pull the weak economy back on its feet and that is why it is imperative to make education a top priority; this can be done through more state funding, restructuring the tax code, and making more grant and scholarships available to students pursuing higher education.
Education a Low Priority
By looking at numerous statistics, one can easily recognize Nevada’s poor performance in terms of education. Measuring Up collects data about high schools and colleges from each state and grades them appropriately in five different categories: preparation, participation, affordability, completion, and benefits. As of 2008, Measuring Up handed Nevada a grade of F in Participation, Affordability, and completion, while gaining a D in Benefits and C in Preparation. These graded categories are for K-12 and college education put together. [CITATION; only k-12 or college as well??] It is quite obvious that these are terrible scores, and from 2007 onward the state government has been cutting back on funding education due to the recession. Not only was Nevada already doing poorly in education, but it is now...