By Bill Huggins, Nevada Green Party Executive Committee, Member At-Large
Therese van Pelt, Nevada Green Party Executive Committee, Member At-Large
The Clark County School District is in crisis. This is nothing new to those who have lived in southern Nevada long enough to know the District and its woes over the decades: consider that in 2016, 1 in 4 CCSD students did not graduate. The larger truth of the matter is the lives of Clark County’s schoolchildren are affected by social dynamics outside the classroom that follow them to school.
These stories should be heard and shared.
Recent actions by the Trump administration—ending policies that provide free and reduced price school breakfasts and lunches, on which 12 million American schoolkids rely, seeming to forget that a hungry mind cannot be fueled by an empty belly; ending Head Start programs; providing vouchers for parents to pull students of out the public school system and take the money to assist in tuition at private schools, financially damaging school districts more; cutting arts funding; cuts to after school programs and teacher training programs—will only make matters worse for CCSD students and students nationwide. But over the years Democrats have fared no better. The Obama administration proposed deep education spending cuts, as well. By bringing some of these stories to light, perhaps Nevada voters will consider helping the Green Party gain ballot access and see what a political party outside the mainstream can do to remedy this awful situation. Because one thing is clear: we cannot continue on the same path.
List of Challenges
The list of challenges CCSD students face outside school seems endless: pressure to join gangs; a 7th grader sexed into her parents’ gang; children constantly riddled with lice; a 7th grader with a one-year old and another on the way; children afraid of holidays, weekends, spring break, even, because of food scarcity or abuse; the world of Budget Suites around the valley, the things that happen there enough to fill a book, from dumpster diving to parents doing drugs to open prostitution in front of children; the basic impossibility for some children to make it to school because of incomplete bus routes and a family’s poverty that makes it impossible for them to obtain a car; children being dropped at school by a parent with all their worldly goods in a shopping cart having no idea where they will spend the night once school is done or what there will be to eat.
And once they get to school children suffer from overcrowded classrooms, lack of textbooks, poor facilities, overworked teachers, lack of essential resources with which to work and learn, school infrastructure issues. Not to mention security problems that have become everyday occurrences such as gangs, bullying, and the ever-present concern about guns in our schools. Students with low IQs often don’t qualify for special education because under current standards they are working to their potential. It is a stressful time to be a student in the United States of America if you live in the wrong district or your parents can’t afford the cost of a private school.
Take the case of one young student, her story by no means unique: she has diabetes, no access to a car, a mother also with diabetes caring for two other children—she very often cannot make school and is happy to repeat 8th grade even though she’s intelligent enough to move up a grade. She is stuck in this cycle: no bussing in her district, no way to get to school even when she wants to, no access to good food or healthcare, lives in a food desert, has to help with brothers and sisters when mom has a diabetes attack. What does the future hold for this child and others like her?
Green Party Cares
What can the Green Party do about all these issues? At the moment, without ballot access, very little except draw attention to them. But the future holds great promise. Unlike the Democratic or Republican parties, the Green "People's" Party is made up of real people who are aware of real issues. Education is a social justice issue and at the core of what Greens care about: without providing a solid education for all America’s young people we will never create a fair and equitable society. Greens care more about our children's futures than about raising funds in the endless war within the two-party system: we are the people and we are the party.
Our children deserve better. These are the leaders of the future and we should give them the best shot we can at preparing to take the reins of our society one day so they can lead us into a better future. But we cannot provide that future without a present that puts them on that path.
And right now we are failing them.
Nevada’s children deserve more than a future in low-wage jobs or the school-to-prison pipeline. That future begins in school. Not only should every child not be left behind, every child deserves an education that will give her or him the opportunity to make a maximum contribution to our society. Join us in the Nevada Green Party and help us build a future for our children we can be proud of—for them and ourselves.