Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Surprise! Our Economy Still Sucks.

Why is anyone surprised? Seriously.

Nevada scored 21.3 out of 100 on the Opportunity Index, putting the state in last place in the ranking by Opportunity Nation, a campaign from Be the Change, and the American Human Development Project, part of the Social Science Research Council.

The ranking is based on criteria in three general categories: Economy, education and community health and civic life.

Nevada scored 4 out of 10 in the economy category, 1 out of 10 in education and 1 out of 10 in community health and civic life. The national averages for all three categories were between 5.4 and 5.6.

Nevada had the lowest scores in the nation of the percentage of high school students who graduate on time and the number of preschool-aged children enrolled in school. Plus, the report said 11.2 percent of Nevada teenagers are not in school or working.

The Silver State also received the lowest score in the nation on access to health care, with 86.7 primary care providers per 100,000 residents.

And the state had the second highest violent crime score in the nation, with 707 crimes per 100,000 people.

WOW! We continue to FAIL our way to the top of every list we shouldn't want to be on!

Look at this map and where you see the deepest, darkest blue (or opportunity). Look at the top states. Guess what? The likes of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Minnesota invest in their people... And sadly, we don't.

Remember this story from June? If even the teachers can't afford to stay in our schools, can we really expect the kids to learn? And if too many of the kids here don't learn, will we ever develop the kind of workforce we need for a healthy, diverse economy?

Maybe the Rebels are doing great on the b-ball court, but we're not succeeding where it really counts. I suspect what I said in June still stands.

There is a reason why education is so valuable. It really can be the key to unlocking a better future. But because Nevada doesn't value public education, we see the most of the best and brightest avoid this state like the plague while our economy remains hopelessly overdependent on casinos and tourism.

There's a reason why people in this state were crying out from January to March all the way to May. And even though Nevada has a budget, it still doesn't really do anything to solve our long-term problems. That's why there's a growing demand to take action next year, regardless of what Sandoval and The Legislature (don't) do in the interim.

Trust me. Daniel Avellino isn't the only teacher Nevada is losing. There are more like him who can no longer survive under the current system. And as long as we keep treating teachers like crap and continue underfunding our schools, public education will continue to circle the drain in the toilet in this state. Something has to be done to fix this. We can't keep waiting while our teachers are being forced to give up their passion and our students are being forced to give up their dreams.

All I want for Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa is a Nevada that realizes we can no longer shortchange ourselves and our future.

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