Adults talk a lot about what is right and wrong with the educational system here in Nevada. But what are students themselves saying?
As the school year ended, The Nevada Independent education reporter Jackie Valley was curious what was on the minds of some high school students at three Clark County high schools – Green Valley, Chaparral, and Advanced Technologies Academy.
Valley explained that she got the idea towards the end of the session as lawmakers were looking at a lot of different education policies from weighted funding formulas to sex education.
“Largely, these decisions are being made by adults in Carson City a lot of whom don’t really have any connection to education,” she said.
So she thought it would be interesting to talk to the students who are graduating after years in the Clark County School District.
“I would say that the high school students had a lot more practical thoughts,” she said.
One of the biggest topics among all the students was class size. She said while lawmakers talk about class size in vague terms the students at a very practical level couldn't get a seat in certain classes.
Stanley Yip is one of the students Valley talked to and he experienced overcrowded schools in middle school.
“My Algebra 1 class had 50 students in it and it was a classroom built for 30 students,” he said.
He said it was tough for the teacher to connect with the students and get the material across to them.
Mackienzy Kahl is a graduate of Green Valley High school and he had a similar story. Two students in one of his history classes had to share a desk and he believes it impacted their success in the class.
Both students agreed that another big problem is how undervalued teachers are. Yip said the attitude of "those who can do, those who can't teach" hurts teachers and many students were disrespectful to their teachers.
"They were not given the tools and they were not given the respect," he said.
Kahl believes the attitude change towards teachers needs to come from home.
“As families, it should be the families job to reinforce teaching and how important it is,” he said.
While both students agreed on those key topics, they disagreed about which part of the curriculum needed to be changed. Yip and his classmates at Advanced Technologies Academy thought sex education needed to be comprehensive, instead of the abstinence-only they're currently getting.
“I think what we’re missing in sex education is things outside of sex, learning to respect other people’s bodies, learning to respect other people, learning what happens during puberty, learning what happens when you’re growing up,” Yip said.
As for Kahl, he wanted more emphasis on financial literacy, pointing out that while he appreciates learning about geology you don't go to jail if "you fail to understand rocks."
"I can go to jail if I don’t understand taxes," he said, "I don’t know why we’re not learning it the way adults understand it."
He believes students should get an education in taxes, the IRS, the Federal Reserve, mortgages, borrowing and lending, investing and accounting.
Both Yip and Kahl are off to college in the fall.
Jackie Valley, reporter, The Nevada Independent; Stanley Yip, graduate, Advanced Technologies Academy; Mackienzy Kahl, graduate, Green Valley High School
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