Las Vegas Sun

December 19, 2014

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Brian Sandoval lays out education plan, backs vouchers

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Brian Sandoval

Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval wants parents to be able to use vouchers to send their children to private schools, and opt out of the public education system.

Sandoval, a former federal judge, laid out his plan today for K-12 schools in an nine-page document titled "Raising the Bar on Education."

The hallmarks of the plan are "accountability, choice and local control," Sandoval told the Sun. "Most of the people in this state, if not all, have come to the realization that something needs to change. We can’t expect different results if we do things the same way."

Sandoval is in the process of visiting 100 schools statewide, and said his conversations with educators, parents, students and community leaders helped to inform his proposals. He’s also met with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and modeled some of his ideas for Nevada after those implemented in the Sunshine State.

In addition to school vouchers, Sandoval advocates ending tenure, and instead basing pay for teachers and principals largely on how well their students perform. Sandoval would also create a new statewide institute to train aspiring principals.

Among Sandoval’s other proposed changes:

*Schools would be evaluated and given a letter grade (ranging from an A to an F), with funding and incentives tied to performance.

*Modeled on a similar initiative in Florida, Nevada students who aren’t reading at the required proficiency by the end of third grade would be held back for remedial literacy classes.

*Local districts would have to provide transportation to parents who want to move their child from a failing school (those that earn a "D" or "F" grade under Sandoval’s plan) to a more successful district campus, including charter schools.

*Revive the proposed Nevada Charter School Institute, which was proposed during the 2009 legislative session to help promote and support alternative public campuses.

*Expand the "empowerment schools" initiative, as well as magnet programs and career and technical education options. Virtual and distance education opportunities would also be enhanced.

*Create tax incentives to encourage businesses to actively support public schools.

*Award block grants to school districts to encourage local authority and flexibility. The money could be used for a variety of initiatives, such as maintaining smaller class sizes or adding programs for gifted and talented students.

*Privatize food services and facilities management.

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