Good afternoon dear readers and welcome back to kenbaxter.com! I am Ken Baxter of Las Vegas and today is Wednesday, February 19th, 2014. I hope this finds you rested and refreshed after the long President’s Day weekend! Last week my lovely wife Linda and I, on behalf of Made In America, had the opportunity to attend a very important and informative luncheon for the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA). The topic of discussion, “Transforming the Business of Education,” was presented by Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky of Clark County School District (CCSD) and conferred a wealth of information to over 400 citizens and employees of Clark County regarding the state of affairs in the Clark County educational system.
The mission of LVGEA is to grow the economy in Southern Nevada through connectivity, community development, and aggressive business recruitment, retention, and outreach. Like Made In America, LVGEA wants results in the form of economic renewal and job creation for our hard-working Nevada residents and for all Americans! On February 11th, 2014 LVGEA held a special meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada to address these matters in correlation with the current issues faced by the educational system here in Clark County, the fifth largest school district in the nation. LVGEA and CCSD propose that by improving student graduation rates as well as educational standards, the economy of Southern Nevada will also improve due to the increase in earning ability for students who complete their K-12 grade education, amongst many other factors.
Superintendent Skorkowsky started working with CCSD more than twenty-four years ago as a first grade teacher at Ronnow Elementary School. During his career with CCSD, he has served as an elementary school teacher, principal, area superintendent, deputy superintendent, and interim superintendent. In June 2013, Skorkowsky was unanimously appointed Superintendent of the Clark County School District, and has led reorganization efforts to improve business practices and help boost district achievement.
Mr. Skorkowsky brought to light in his meaningful speech that Clark County School District is the third-largest overall employer in Nevada and as of the 2013-14 school year, has in its’ system nearly 315,000 students and that figure keeps growing! He pointed out that the cost of educating that amount of students is almost $2.1 billion dollars. One of the most interesting things that Linda and I learned from this presentation is that the per-pupil expenditure on CCSD students is the lowest of the top five largest school districts in the country at $5,068 spent per student and trails behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami-Dade, with New York being the leader at almost $20,000 spent per pupil.
Sadly, Clark County Schools are last in the nation’s “Chance for Success” ranking and come in near the bottom for “K-12 Achievement” and “School Finance” rankings as well. The reason Superintendent Skorkowsky wants to renew our focus on education in Clark County is that education equals economic development. He noted that students who are unable to read at their grade level are four times less likely to graduate high school and that high school dropouts are sixty-three times more likely to be incarcerated than to become college graduates. The reason we need to renew our effort to support CCSD is that getting the students the best possible education would result in a far better chance for the students to succeed in getting jobs, positively contributing to society, and by extension, creating more jobs due to economic stimulus of having the students successfully enter the workforce and spend their hard-earned dollars.
Difficult obstacles exist which threaten the ability of the Clark County educational system to get our children successfully through to graduation. One of those factors is the growth of the homeless population for CCSD students. The figure grows each year, and at present is nearly 8,000 students. Clark County also receives significantly less funding from the State of Nevada than other counties.
On a positive note, Nevada ranks above the national average in achievement gains for 4th and 8th grade math and reading students. We are also improving our graduation rates, up from 61.6 percent in 2012 to 71.5 percent in 2013 with over 900 more students from CCSD graduating in 2013 than the prior year. Did you know that a Nevada high school graduate earns $6,237 more each year than a high school dropout? That equals over $5.6 million per year combined in extra income for Nevadans simply because they earn a diploma. The incentive is HUGE to get the Clark County graduation rate to change for the better!
Suggested improvements for the issues facing CCSD are the responsibility of the community, parents, and local businesses. Mentoring students, encouraging family members to attend parent-teacher conferences, and monitoring student’s progress are just some of the solutions promoted by CCSD to achieve the goals we should all be working towards – to get our students through the 12th grade.
Along with Superintendent Skorkowsky, Tom Skancke, President and CEO of LVGEA pointed out that his organization, along with a promise from Clark County to assist, is dedicated to improving the education system and bringing jobs back to Las Vegas and to the USA. Linda and I left the meeting feeling hopeful for the future of Clark County School District under the leadership of Superintendent Skorkowsky.
We at Made In America are also dedicated to promoting education, and we are especially passionate in promoting education in the manufacturing programs at local schools in Clark County. Through the STEM, STEAM, and Career and Technical Education programs for students, Made In America hopes to return and retain more jobs in the manufacturing industry for our future wage-earners of Nevada. In fact, Made In America also realizes that Patriotic Spending – the act of using American dollars to purchase American goods and services – will result in significant job creation and retention for American citizens. In fact, if we spend just 5% more on American made products, we can help create 1 million jobs directly and another 1 million jobs indirectly. I hope you will join us in our mission to promote these and many other goals for America. For more information on these and other important initiatives promoted by Made In America, please visit our website – http://www.mianv.org/.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!