Rene Cantu, Executive Director, Latin Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Rene Cantu is one of four finalists for State Superintendent of Education, for the second time in two years. Currently Cantu serves as the leader of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Foundation. He talked about his plans for the schools and how teachers, adminstrators and parents can improve educational acheivement in Nevada.
Why He’s Running
I think that the way that we’re going to transform Nevada for the better economically is through education. As a person who’s very active in the community, I know that we must do something about our dropout rate, or we will continue to suffer declines in our quality of life and the general economic well being for the state. So I applied for this job because I am personally invested. I believe the governor’s vision is right on the money with regard to reform in education.
Budget And Priorities
I think first and foremost we are 37 with regard to drop outs. When you look at a budget, it’s a statement of what you believe is important, and I believe that as per Nevada’s Promise, I think that it was 2.9 percent of our taxable resources are invested toward education, where as the median is closer to 3.8. I think we would not be hurt, I think that we would be tremendously helped, if we increased our investment in education.
My mantra is reform with judicious investment or judicious investment with reform. I do not believe in throwing money at a problem. I listened to the report on per pupil funding, and there were exceptions on both ends. There were states with high investments with low outcomes, and there were states with low investments with high outcomes. What we want to do is use every penny as wisely as we can, so we can move at least towards the median at least initially, and then toward the top.
English Language Learners
In my current position we work with youth who are ELL, youth who are homeless, pregnant and parenting. A lot of these things are intertwined. I think that low education levels result in criminality, they result in preganancy and parenting, institutionalization. I stood at Casa Grande probably about six weeks ago, and spoke to a group of youth, young offenders and to a person none of them had finished their high school diploma. I think that ELL has been neglected in this state for a very long time and I was very glad to see the governor prioritize this. I think we need to move forward with this. If we can raise the performance of ELL students, I believe we can raise the entire boat.