Owen Carver recently lost his bid to unseat Assembly Speaker John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, from the Summerlin-area seat that Hambrick has held since 2008.
The founder of AllinWebPro.com
and Café do Paraiso
LLC, Carver speaks of continuing to play an active role in the development of public policy throughout the region and state, drawing upon his concerns about the ability of our K-12 and higher education systems to meet the needs of the changing economy. We spoke with Carver, a member of the Nevada Succeeds’ Board of Directors, earlier today about lessons learned along the campaign trail.
How has this experience reframed your thoughts about Nevada’s K-12 system?
I talked to a ton of people -- teachers, parents, thousands of people who are passionate about education, people who work in ZOOM Schools, people who have their kids in public or private schools, and school funding was a major issue, but I think a lot of people are just concerned about the quality of our education system.
There are a lot of voices and a lot of perspectives out there that don’t feel like they’re being heard, and so something that I was telling people when I was campaigning and knocking on doors is that I’m very passionate about empowering the voices of the average teacher, the average parent so that they feel that their voices and their concerns are being heard by the people making decisions
What did you hear from people about the Reorganization of the Clark County School District?
A lot of folks were asking me about the details because they really didn’t know much. Some of them knew that schools would become (neighborhood focused) and that there would be a new kind of board created for each school that would have at least two teachers, two parents, two community members, and that that board would be making some decisions to oversee the schools.
I told people that the Clark County School District didn’t become the (nation’s) fifth-largest school district by design. We got that way because we didn’t do anything about our (region’s) growth. So to that degree and the degree to which we’re changing something, I’d like to see us focus more attention on schools to get communities involved, and to have more people actually caring about education issues. So I think that’s actually a very positive and important direction.
How could we better engage parents and community members in this and other conversations?
Carver: I think we need a lot more leadership that actually touches people
, leadership that says that we care about you and we actually want to know what you think. I think what happens is most folks are dependent upon such sources of information as television and the newspaper, but that is very impersonal, and I think we can do much better about communicating with and informing parents and the public.
Linda Young, President of the Clark County School Board of Trustees, represents West Las Vegas, and she noted during the most recent School Board meeting that a significant portion of her constituents lack computers and WiFi service, making it more difficult to communicate with them about the reorganization and other school district issues. How would you recommend we better reach parents who lack the technology that so many of us take for granted?
There’s always a way. There are a lot of new start-up companies that are working in Africa and Central America right now… both being places where there is a lot of poverty and low access to technology, and depending upon the area, low penetration of high-speed Internet service. They are working to close that gap through creative initiatives. In Las Vegas, to the extent where we have families that don’t have some form of technology, people still use some type of communication tool, and it’s typically a cell-phone on which they can receive text messages. We have to be creative.
SMS (texting) is a very powerful tool that we could use to reach out to parents.
Let’s say that we want to share a long statement to parents. That not something we could fit in a text message, but you could say that there’s a message that’s important that you need to read, and here are three ways that you can get it: You can pick it up in person; we can mail or email it to you; what’s your preferred way of delivery? And just text us your answer.
If we use something like that approach we could create much stronger connectivity with parents, and, again, it just takes some imagination and people who actually understand technology to drive that innovation.
How do you feel in the aftermath of having running your first political campaign?
Something I’ve always thought to myself is that people don’t have to be in office to change the world. The way I think about it is how do we take the energy that we built up and do something positive with it?
I’m very hopeful and very excited about new projects and new possibilities right now. So I’m looking at it from the perspective of what are the positives? One of the positives is I have more time to dedicate toward certain initiatives and community work that I’m very excited about, and I don’t have to be as preoccupied with the actual legislative process, which was an alternative ending, and so I’m excited to move forward.