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US Education Secretary: What Can CCSD Do Better?

Eric Westervelt/NPR

Kids eat lunch at Forbuss Elementary School in the southwest part of the valley.

There’s no need to say it, because it’s something known all too well: the state of education in Nevada is horrible.

Annually, Clark County schools rank near the bottom in academic achievement and high school graduation rates.

There ARE glimmers of hope: the state approved a tax hike in 2015 meant to address education. Governor Brian Sandoval says better education means more businesses will move to Nevada.

Then in December, President Barack Obama signed a measure called the Every Student Succeeds Act. And if you read what it does, it sounds practically tailor-made for Nevada.

In support of the act, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King is visiting Las Vegas. His core message is espousing the value of a well-rounded education.

“We know that students need strong literacy and math skills those are necessary but not sufficient for a great education," King told KNPR's State of Nevada, "They also need science and social studies, opportunities in the arts. The opportunity to learn a second language.”

Around the country graduation rates have improved, King said the school districts that have succeeded in improving those rates have focused on ending chronic absenteeism through mentoring programs and constant contact with families.

He also said schools that have developed ways to get kids excited and engaged in their education have seen improvement. He said that is one of the reasons he is focusing on the idea of a well-rounded education.

“We know that students that have a strong background in social studies and science do better in reading and math as a result," King said, "So we want to make sure at the elementary level in particular folks are focused on addressing those other topic areas not just focused on reading and math.”

King focused on the well-rounded education during a speech at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts Thursday. He said the school is an example of successful education strategy.

“It illustrates something about education, yes -it’s about skill acquisition, but it’s also about inspiration and students feeling motivated by what they’re learning each day,” he said. 

John B. King, U.S. Secretary of Education

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.