To provide this experience for our tourists, the industry needs to operate a 24/7. If our guests want to gamble and drink until dawn, we need to provide them the same amenities they would have available to them at any other time of the day. To do all of this puts a strain on several aspects of our own existence — namely, the family structure.
Because of our major industry and its demands on the work force, many moms and dads work odd shifts for low pay. Many of our workers are not very well educated, might not be in this country legally and often have kids of school age.
These kids come to our schools, which double as no-cost day care for the parents. These kids come before school and stay after school. They are fed breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack at no cost to the parents.
If we were to not allow them to enroll in our schools, we would have hoards of hungry kids wandering the streets causing societal problems rather than struggling to get an education. The English language is often not the primary language of many of our minority students and this provides an additional roadblock to their education.
According to 2010 statistics, nearly half of Washoe County’s students are Hispanic, Asian, Native American, black or another minority. Another 7.5 percent or more are special education, according to the district. Many are both. Still more come from uneducated or poorly educated families. All are here to seek the American dream — whatever that is.
When compared to surrounding states in terms of graduation rates and reading ability, Nevada comes in dead last. Montana, Idaho and Utah all are comprised of fairly small towns. Moms and dads work 8 to 5 and are home on weekends. Their economy allows for that and they do so with a fairly livable wage. These parents acquired their ability to maintain a standard of living based on whatever their education brought their way. They, like their parents before them, valued the educational system, supported it and saw to it that their student worked to achieve what they had. Yes, these states have their problems too, but not as deep seeded as Nevada’s.
I’m not giving Nevada an excuse for why our state’s educational statistics are in the dumper, but rather I am saying there are differences in our state’s families that are not as rampant as in our neighboring states. I do believe in our neighboring states there is less child and spousal abuse, less alcohol and drug abuse, less graffiti and divorce and church attendance is higher. There is seemingly more respect for the foundations of our society in our neighboring states than in our own. Families are, overall, more important in our neighboring states than in our own.
Our neighboring states still admire apple pie, mom and the American flag. The parents are better educated and have learned the value of education in their lives. As a consequence, they are better able to impart that respect and admiration for education to their children rather than giving it lip service.
With the downturn in our economy, all the ills of Nevada’s society are magnified immensely as a result.
To say that our teachers are the reason for this lowering of statistics is ridiculous. Most legislators and other stone casters who live in glass houses don’t realize that the teacher’s domain ends at the front step of every student’s home.
Can teachers make a difference? Yes. Should they make a difference? Yes. Don’t throw your stones until they have a snowball’s chance at doing a better job once they are given the tools to work battle our tremendous societal problems. I do believe that our state’s educators can do it with less money if given the proper tools to do so.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.