Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011 | 2:02 a.m.
Critics of the type of state superintendent Gov. Brian Sandoval would pick are being reactionary when attempting to criticize “Florida-style reforms” such as widely expanding school choice through charter schools, vouchers and open enrollment.
These sorts of reforms would be perfect for Nevada, and the two states have many similarities. These include the high number of Hispanic students in each state, the local housing market (and thus property tax for schools) fright, and wide variations between districts. These are all central “ground conditions” for education in a state. Yet Nevada’s students perform poorly, while Florida students have shown great improvement. It’s not a far stretch to conclude that the different education policies between the two states have a large effect, especially since Florida was a lot more like Nevada 10 years ago, with an enormous achievement gap between whites and minorities and poor overall scores.
Now, Florida is among the nation’s leaders in closing the achievement gap overall, and especially that of Hispanic students. Perhaps these worried critics ought to look a little more closely at the data before attempting to lock in Nevada to more years of failure merely because some are too proud to copy success.
The author is an education research fellow at the Heartland Institute.