I think those words were probably once in a song but they are very relevant to life in Nevada today. Today, there are so many good teachers and schools in this State, I know several of the teachers personally. The trouble is that we also have many problems that are holding our school system back, particularly lack of financial investment, patchy administration and difficulty recruiting and keeping talented teachers. Why should folks at a Temple care? Because we have just had Pesach, a holiday where education of children is paramount and, public education is an important part of our heritage. In the Talmud, Joshua Gamla is lauded for instituting a system of schools in every city and town, even specifying the requisite class size and that the local people should pay for the schools.
Right now Governor Sandoval is trying to get a new Business License Fee through the Nevada legislature which would bring $430 million to public schools. The fee would be charged to every business in Nevada, would be based on business size and also on industry sector. I realize that not all business owners will be happy about this but many I have spoken to are supportive. The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, with which I have contact, explained to me that of around two hundred and fifty companies that did not relocate to Vegas in the past few years, over a third of them refused to come because of lack of a skilled work force and good public education. That’s over seventy companies!
Our Temple is a member of Nevadans for the Common Good (NCG) which supports the license fee, not as a blank check but as a way of targeting specific programs which have been proven and ensuring that, as those programs as used in Nevada, that they are accountable for quality control and results. NCG is not supporting this because they care about Republicans or Democrats but because the education research we have read indicates that more money can make a difference if used well.
If you want to know more, call me at the office on 702 254 5110 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or go gov.nv.gov and click on “News and Media”, then “Press Releases”, then “2015” and scroll down to find an explanation. I hope the congregation will be engaged in this issue, not just teachers and parents of kids in the school system but anyone who cares about Nevada.
Rabbi Malcolm Cohen