Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2014

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Elaine Wynn: Better teachers, better leadership for our schools

Elaine Wynn

Elaine Wynn

Sun Coverage

My hope is that over the next 10 years we will become more enlightened about education.

I’ve been very disappointed for a very long time about our direction. We have teachers and principals, dedicated education professionals, who have tried their hardest to deliver quality education to our children, but they haven’t had the leadership and resources they need to be successful.

As a state, we spend more on education than anything else, but it doesn’t get the attention it needs. There’s too much confusion over responsibilities, and services for students are too fragmented.

We need to move toward a more coherent structure, and that’s going to take dynamic leadership. Ideally, we will see more business leaders and parents take a more active role in demanding that changes be made. If it doesn’t come from the community, it will never get addressed.

There doesn’t have to be this great disparity in student achievement between our minority and white students. We know when schools get the wraparound services and support they need, test scores go up. I would like to see us close the achievement gaps, and also reduce our dropout rate and improve our graduation rate.

I think with our growth slowed nearly to a halt, there might be some hope. We have been so focused on the galloping capital demands to build enough seats for students that it didn’t give us enough time to focus on the issues of quality and equity.

If I walked into a public school 10 years from now, I would like to see a well-trained principal who went through formal leadership training and only highly qualified teachers. There would be a working relationship among UNLV’s school of education, educators and the district — professors would be coming into the classrooms as visiting instructors to get a better sense of what teachers are having to deal with on a daily basis. Teachers would have better salaries.

Everything in life is about leadership. Show me a good principal and I’ll show you a good school.

It’s up to the citizens to decide what kind of leadership they want. It’s easy to be critical of public servants when no one else offers to take on the burden. We don’t need more people to tell us what what’s wrong with public education. You’re either part of the problem, or you’re part of the solution.

Nevadans have to ask themselves — which part do you want to be?

Elaine Wynn is director of Wynn Resorts and national chairwoman of Communities in Schools, a nonprofit organization that connects campuses in need with resources for basic services.

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