Nevada Gov. Pledges to Copy Florida, Fix Schools

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has made education reform one of his top priorities, and he's turning to another former governor for advice. Jeb Bush implemented major changes to schools in Florida, and Wednesday, he joined Sandoval at two Las Vegas schools.

Nevada has earned poor marks in public education. Governor Sandoval has looked up to former-Governor Bush for ideas on helping Nevada's schools before, and Sandoval is looking closely the so-called "Florida Model" to use in Nevada.

"Probably, number one is ending social promotion in the state of Nevada. And I'll steal his line: It shouldn't be a novel idea that every child should be able to read at grade level by third grade. So that's something we'd like to implement and model here. We think that'd go a long way to decreasing the drop out rate in the state of Nevada," said Sandoval.

The two governors first toured Southwest Career and Technical Academy, and later at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy.

Sandoval also touted another of Bush's ideas: school choice. He believes parents should have the ability to choose where to send their kids to school, such as through a voucher program.

Sandoval intends to pursue that education reform in the legislative session. Bush says when parents have the option of choose where their child learns, Florida proved that a struggling schools can get its act together.

"What it does is improve public schools, in effect. If there's a consequence of continual mediocrity or failure, and that's the catalyst for improving -- for giving parents other choices -- generally what happens is the public schools improve," said Bush.

Sandoval says Bush helped change the quality of education in Florida by shattering long-held myths and ending excuses for poor performance. Sandoval credits Bush for more Florida students being able to read and do math at grade level, taking and passing more rigorous courses, and he says high school graduation rates also improved.

Governor Bush left office four years ago, and while many lawmakers buy into his education philosophy, he still has his share of critics. According an article in the Miami Herald, some Florida Democrats believe the Bush education philosophy places more emphasis on testing over learning and "starves public schools of resources."


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