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Former Gov. Bob List, Assembly Speaker Buckley Face Off On Fixing Nevada Schools


Gov. Bob List, Republican, 1979-1983

Barbara Buckley, former Assembly Speaker, Democrat

BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Was the last legislative session a bust because lawmakers failed to raise taxes to fund Nevada’s perennially underperforming school system?

“I’m not sure it’s a failure,” says former Nevada Republican Governor Bob List. “I think you have to justify an increase in taxes before it can even be considered. And I don’t think there’s been a justification.”

List does approve of Gov. Sandoval’s focus on increasing funds for English Language Leaner’s programs. “I think all the extra money that went into that is well spent. We have such a high proportion of Latinos in our schools now who don’t speak English.”

The former Governor points to a recent story about high school graduates failing even to pass the military aptitude test. According to the report, only one in five Nevada graduates passed the test.

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“I think we could use a serious, objective study on what’s wrong with our schools and how to fix it,” says List.

Former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley says that some of the reforms kicked around already have value – full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes –  and should be implemented.

She also thinks that schools should not only implement programs specific to students who need extra attention, like English Language Learners, but should also challenge those students who are thriving so that they’re not bored.

Buckley points to schools like The Advanced Technologies Academy, which has a medical and dental track as well as other science curriculums to challenge students, as successfully challenging students. “But we have kids who can’t get in. They’re on a lottery.”

List agreed with Buckley’s praise of the Google Plus school. “Many of our schools are beautifully equipped,” says the former governor. “I happen to believe this school district is so difficult to manage because it’s so darned big. Parents aren’t involved with their children’s education at all.”

But Buckley says it’s difficult for the parents to help when the books issued by the district aren’t in alignment with common core standards. “How can that be?” asks Buckley. “Who is in charge of that?”

Buckley says this disconnect between books and standards is just one of many “chinks in the armor” of the system.

“We can do better than that,” says Buckley.