Deonne Contine: Nevada won't get stronger by defunding education

I was born and raised in Nevada. When I graduated from high school in 1986, I left the state, not for college but for opportunities that Nevada did not offer.

I eventually worked to put myself through school and, in 1999, became the first in my family to graduate from college. Thereafter, I chose to make Nevada my home again and in 2003, my son became a native Nevadan like me. When my son was a year and a half, I graduated from the Boyd School of Law at UNLV.

Now, I am the parent of a 7-year-old who attends school in Carson City. As someone who has worked long and hard to achieve my educational goals and encourages my child to do the same, I find the current proposed budget for education troubling.

Many probably already know that Nevada ranks near the bottom of per pupil funding and that education has endured drastic budget cuts in the past several years.

This year, Gov. Brian Sandoval's recommended budget contains another round of cuts. Local school districts are evaluating what the reality of these cuts will be: teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, deferred curriculum adoption, loss of music and sports programs and less funding for enrichment and other opportunities for our children.

In Carson City, the proposed reduction is approximately $6 million, or another 19 percent from last years cuts.

As the mother of a public school student, I am concerned about another round of budget cuts to Nevada education. But, my concern also comes from being a proud Nevadan. A Nevadan who has so much hope for so much more in her state. A Nevadan who was especially proud to watch as more than a thousand Nevada students rallied in Carson City last week to say that education matters. It does not only matter to those individuals protesting. Education matters to grow a richer economy and more dynamic and industrious society.

The governor talks of Nevada being Nevada again. But I want Nevada to be better, stronger, and smarter than Nevada has ever been. We cannot be a better, stronger or smarter Nevada, however, if we continually devalue and defund education as we have over the last several years.

Indeed, if we are to ever be better, stronger and smarter, we must change the culture in Nevada to one which promotes and funds education as its top priority and considers it the best means to achieve economic stability, strong future leaders, and more productive citizens. Our children deserve it, and our future success depends

on it.

For more information on what you can do to support education funding in Nevada, please visit the Parent Leaders for Education's website at

• Deonne Contine is an attorney, education advocate and proud mother.


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