Las Vegas Sun

December 19, 2014

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Where I Stand:

Education, advice were hot topics at forum

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Taylor Beacham

About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 54th annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 23. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. Taylor Beacham of Desert Oasis High School writes about issues covered by her group, “Home in Nevada.”

An opportunity to give your opinion — to be heard — is such a valued opportunity. The Sun Youth Forum, for nearly six decades, has given this opportunity to juniors and seniors in Southern Nevada. Every person who attends has an opinion and voices it — and the best part is that their voices are heard.

The group I was a part of, “Home in Nevada,” discussed many issues facing Nevada in the short term, but there also was a widespread concern for long-term issues.

The first topic question to get us thinking was: “What advice do you have for the new governor to help support education?”

Together we devised our advice: Manage the budget better and see where the money is being sent so we can prioritize and improve. It all was a big cycle, centered on education and its funds.

The current economy is something that affected all of the members in our room. Someway, somehow, we each had input for this topic. The main question was “Will Nevada’s economy ever recover?”

The unanimous conclusion was that the economy will someday prosper again — but it will take time, cooperation and balance. Some students mentioned alternative energy to save money, making Nevada the “Green State.”

Nevada’s government and people will have to work together to give our state the boost we need. Even if it requires adding on some taxes — or in other words, enhancing revenue — just a very minor percentage could make a huge difference right now.

Much of the state budget is going to places that we didn’t think were a priority. If the new Nevada government would look over the budget and re-prioritize, Nevada could save a lot of money and have valuable money going toward the groups that need it more.

Two major controversial topics discussed were the possibility of a lottery in Nevada and the legalization of marijuana. It was brought to our attention that the money spent toward a lottery ticket could take away from casinos, and it also is a “sin tax,” but another point mentioned in the discussion was that people would just spend even more money gambling. The lottery would mostly be used by locals, so the gaming industry would not be hurt. There would also be the opportunity to gain money for the state through a lottery by taxing the winning money.

Marijuana, in my opinion, is a very harmful drug and should not be legalized in any way other than for medicinal purposes, which should require very strict oversight. But those supporting legalization outweighed those in opposition.

Arguments based on the similarities between marijuana and alcohol were brought up but then settled after the realization that marijuana has a much more detrimental effect long-term on a person’s brain. An overall consensus was not reached, but it was an issue that sparked heated discussions.

Education should be a top priority for Nevada, and not just K-12, but higher education.

Although nearly 50 percent of the state budget goes toward education, there are other things that could be cut that would be less devastating. We decided that class sizes, books and curriculum all need to be taken into consideration when the Legislature goes into session in 2011.

The Sun Youth Forum was an absolutely amazing experience and one I will never forget. It was an excellent display of the collaboration of the youth in Nevada, and it shows that anything is possible.

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