Last Saturday, I marched for our lives. I marched because I believe schools should be a welcoming place of education and growth, not fear and violence. Our children are in the classroom to learn about history and math and science, not how to protect themselves if there’s an active shooter.
I also marched to show my awe and gratitude for the young people who have stood up, spoke out and said, “Never again.”
Across the country and in our own backyard, millions of students have become activists almost overnight. They realize that if they want to live in a world where they can go to school without worrying if they will be shot, they have to take action.
Adults, and especially policymakers, have a lot to learn from them. Our state Attorney General, Adam Laxalt’s response to the recent spate of school shootings: “The more police officers we have in schools, the safer the schools will be.”
I completely disagree. The more we focus on providing our children with a top-notch education, the safer our schools will be, and our kids will have a better chance at success.
Right now, we have a long way to go. For the fifth year in a row, Nevada ranked at the bottom for quality education. Our state is dead last – 51st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia – in our overall performance. We earned a D grade and were 50th in the “chance of success” category. Tellingly, we also received a D- for our school finances.
So, should we put more money into police in our schools or educating our children? The answer seems clear to me.
The lack of resources, support for our teachers, school personnel and students explain why our state continuously ranks at the bottom for quality education. We must demand better for our children. We must remind Attorney General Laxalt and other elected officials that we are not okay with our education system’s failing grades, and we know our schools won’t improve with additional police, but rather with additional funding for what matters most for student success.
Students across the country have inspired me with their activism and advocacy in the wake of the deadly shooting in Parkland, FL. They may be young, but they have shown unbelievable strength standing up for what they believe in. It’s a good lesson for all of us.
In 1857, Frederick Douglas said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will”. Nevadans, we need to speak out and demand better for our schools and for our children. Their lives depend on it.