(Joey Gilbert) – “It is through our schools … that the battle for the future of America will be won or lost,” says the 1988 Carnegie Foundation report “An Imperiled Generation.”
Those prophetic words ring truer today than when they were written 35 years ago.
Over the past several years, my work has taken me to every part of Nevada, meeting with parents, grandparents, business owners and community members. I’ve asked all of them the same question: What is their greatest concern for our state’s future? Their responses have been consistent: the state of public schools.
After more than a decade of being ranked among the worst states for education, Nevada is the flashpoint for trying to save our entire public education system. The future of millions of children depends on whether our schools can be fixed.
As the father of a teenage daughter, this issue is personal, and I’ve made finding a solution a top priority.
Years of ineffective school leadership have left our state’s future hanging in the balance. Several years ago, I sounded the alarm about a primary cause of our broken schools: state statutes that require schools to practice “restorative justice” that I believe eliminates accountability and promotes bad behavior.
Today, restorative justice continues to wreak so much havoc in our schools that Gov. Joe Lombardo — supported by all 17 county school superintendents — has proposed his own education bill. It would require the state Senate and the Assembly to repeal the restorative discipline requirements they approved just four years ago. Lombardo deserves support for his bill, as well as personal recognition for having the courage to push for this legislation in the face of what is presumed to be an oppositional Legislature.
In addition to supporting Lombardo’s proposed repeal of restorative justice plans, my legal team and I, which includes Las Vegas trial attorney and former attorney general candidate Sigal Chattah, have filed four lawsuits to reestablish safe and academically effective schools. Our lawsuits deal primarily with two areas of school operation:
• Curricular abuses that we believe are motivated by partisan politics rather than academic best practices.
• Dangerous campus environments that stem from failing to firmly and fairly enforce high standards of personal conduct and create personal accountability.
The immediate need to quell school violence is illustrated by the fact that as I wrote this column, four Nevada counties had schools under “code red” lockdowns (life-threatening situations). (Editor’s note: All four turned out to be hoaxes, though that was not known at the time Gilbert wrote this.) Additionally, the most recent statistics available for Clark County public schools show that during the first seven months of the school year, police were called 6,827 times to deal with incidents of violence on or near campus.
Finally, I’ve also united with parents from across the state to kick-start an organization called Education Crusade. Our goal is to reinvent public education in Nevada by exposing the severity of the problems in our schools, providing proven solutions for these problems, and demanding competent and courageous leadership.
We cannot allow our schools to continue to fail. I’m calling on all Nevadans to come together and support strategies to remedy our state’s academic failures and calm campus violence. Will you join me and get in the fight to reinvent public education in Nevada?
Joey Gilbert is an attorney based in Reno. He ran for governor in 2020, losing to then-Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in the Republican Party primary. This column was originally published by the Las Vegas Sun.