The Tuesday Conversation
We hope you enjoy this first installment of our new weekly series “The Tuesday Conversation.” Each week, we will feature discussions with Nevadans working to transform the state’s education system.
If you know someone you think should be highlighted here, please contact Dave Berns at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 510-4420.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE EXECUTIVE
TOUTS NEVADA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS,
DISCUSSES CHALLENGES THEY FACE
Michael Newman moved to Las Vegas 23 years ago with his wife, Deborah, putting three children through the Clark County School District, and the Texas-born Newman speaks positively about that experience.
The Southwest Regional Managing Director for the global commercial real estate firm CBRE touts the educational experience of his children, as well as other Green Valley High School graduates who have gone on to matriculate from top universities in the country, becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers, electricians, artists, chefs, architects, accountants, filling any of hundreds of professions and trades.
In a sense, Newman, a member of the Nevada Succeeds’ Board of Directors, is on the front line of the state’s public education debate, routinely talking with global business executives seeking to expand or move their operations to Nevada. One of the first questions they ask Newman and his team: how good are the schools within the Clark County School District?
“People are worried that they can’t come here, have a life and raise their kids,” Newman said, citing a familiar refrain for anyone who has lived in the state for a significant period of time.
“I think Green Valley High School is typical of a lot of high schools in the valley. My children benefited from attending Green Valley High School,” he said. “They’ve got an International Baccalaureate program. We’ve got the first Rhodes Scholar from the state of Nevada, who came from our neighborhood. We have students from the group who are attending Duke, Stanford University, American University, McGill in Canada. So I think the school system has worked for a certain segment of the student population.”
Q: Why else are you concerned about the health of our public education system?
A: Aside from the cultural impact of educating our children, from an economic diversification perspective, it’s important that we graduate more kids and through that graduation provide opportunities for our citizens as they grow up and they get into college and the workforce.
Q: What’s the greatest misunderstanding that people have about public education in Nevada?
A: I think it works for many… those families that are fortunate enough to be able to be active in the schools and participate in the education of their children, I think many of those folks have had a great experience. It’s that hard-working segment of our population, where you’ve got two parents working two jobs, they often don’t have time to go down to the school and be a part of the every day activity that takes place there. Those are the kids that maybe don’t benefit as much.
Q: What are your thoughts about the amount of money that we spend to educate Nevada’s children?
A: I guess it’s inadequate for some. It’s not inadequate for everybody.
Q: What else concerns you about our schools?
A: Class size is important to many of the people that are moving into the state, as well. They’re worried about overcrowding in our schools.
Q: What do you tell them?
A: I tell them that we’re trying to hire a whole bunch of teachers.
Q: And the response?
A: I think everybody recognizes that it’s going to take a while for our education system to change. It’s going to take a well-thought-out plan that the Legislature and the school district are working on, and it’s going to take time and dedication from the community.
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