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Nevada Superintendent Candidate Rorie Fitzpatrick
Nevada Superintendent Candidate Rorie Fitzpatrick

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AIR DATE: July 30, 2013

GUEST

Rorie Fitzpatrick, Interim Superintedent of Public Instruction for Nevada

Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction Rorie Fitzpatrick is in the running for the permanent post, which was vacated earlier this year when James Guthrie resigned. We'll talk to her about her plans for the job, and how she wants to improve the curriculum.

Why She Wants The Job

I think because I’m the most likely to keep the agenda moving forward and getting us to the results that we want more quickly than anyone else can. In my interview last week I described that I think there are three important priorities for the state superintendent. One, that the individual be an instructional leader. Two, that the individual be a policy leader. Finally, that they be a management leader.

I think that of the candidates, and by the way I’m honored to be in the company of all of the individuals who interviewed – they’re all remarkably sharp and capable individuals. That said, I believe I’m the only one who brings the robust skill set around each of those three areas of leadership.

Importance Of Common Core

The Common Core state standards are imperative for us to graduate students in Nevada who are meaningfully college and career ready. The Common Core standards are as much about how students need to learn and think as they are about what students need to learn. So I don’t know how old you are, but in the days when I was in school, there was a lot of memorization that happened. The Common Core state standards shifts us away from a generic place of memorizing facts to really pushing us into thinking about how we learn, what we learn and what we do with that information. It’s an orientation toward problem solving. There are some states – and they make this argument and they may be right – that they have rigorous enough standards that approach that work without the Common Core. For a state like Nevada, our standards need to change to come into line with the 21st Century skills that we need our graduates to have. The Common Core puts us there.

Full-day Kindergarten

Over time it’s imperative that we move to full-day kindergarten for every student in every opportunity that we can possibly achieve for those kids in every district. I think that it is absolutely true that we’ve got to be purposeful in phasing those in. We will move with this iteration of funding led by Governor Sandoval to over 200 full-day kindergartens in Nevada at no additional cost. We do have what we call papy for kindergarten program, which is parents paying for the other half of the kindergarten experience. Over time, I think it’s imperative we phase out those pay for kindergarten and provide a full-day experience for every Nevada youngster. It’s not appropriate universally right out of the gate because there are facilities implications, there are personal hiring, you probably know in Las Vegas that they’re looking to hire about 2500 new teachers this year. There’s only so much burden that the system can bear. We’ve got to be purposeful. That said, early childhood experience routinely shows the highest return on investment in the research.

Why We Should Fund Education

I think it comes back to education in part in terms of continuing to increase our performance which has a direct and immediate tie to diversifying our economy, businesses want to come here if they see that they can have employees whose kids are going to high-quality schools, so that’s an immediate turn around. Over time, I think our economy is sustained by graduating students who contribute to the workforce – we graduate smart kids who’ve had a good education, who want to go to further education in Nevada, be it part of the Nevada system of higher education or a private school in Nevada for post secondary and then join the workforce in Nevada. So I think it is meaningfully a long-term strategy. I also think we need to be pushing in this direction.

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    COMMENTS:
    Numerous economic studies show that, anecdotal evidence aside, skilled workers generally re-locate to where appropriate jobs are, *not* that companies locate where there are populations of skilled workers. So, the strategy of the State in "creating" a skilled workforce is flawed from step one, at least in terms of attracting companies to fuel economic growth here.
    Tom HurstJul 30, 2013 10:30:09 AM
    A couple or three weeks ago there was an article in Time Magazine about the work currently being done in Utah schools with a language immersion program. The statistics published in that article seem to me to support the ELL program--in fact, we are almost too late if we wait until we start teaching a second language to school-age kids. Is there some way that we can make a copy of that article available to everyone in Nevada who is opposed to teaching a second language in our schools?
    Lois ChatfieldJul 30, 2013 09:48:16 AM
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