Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Letter to Educational Leaders to Pass SB398

My name is Dahn Shaulis. I am an alumnus of UNLV (Ph.D. in sociology, 1998), and have taken several classes/taught in the UNLV School of Education. I know that you and others are seeking solutions to the cuts to save the Educational Leadership program at UNLV. Is it too late for the program to survive?

I know that sometimes faculty and administrators can be reluctant to act publicly, but it will take political action and leadership from the department, the media, and your allies (e.g. the Clark County School District, School Board Members, parents, students) to save your program and save the State of Nevada from further decline.

It will also take solutions.

According to the SAGE Commission, SB398 would save $51 million the first year and $281 million over 5 years by diverting non-violent drug offenders from prison into treatment. SB398 was proposed in the 2009 Legislature but did not pass because of its start up costs ($6 million). Existing and underutilized physical structures for these programs already exist (Casa Grande, Jean, Nevada State Prison).

The money saved could be earmarked for long-term prevention, such as Pre-K education for working-class children. It could also be spent on educational leadership, IF educational leadership can be part of the solution for justice in this Valley.

I asked State politicians that the Bill be considered in the last emergency session but all I heard from politicians was that they couldn't consider any new spending. I attempted to contact School Board members but received little input.

The plan has support from both parties: it was sponsored by Senator Steven Horsford (Ms. Horsford's husband) and the Director of Corrections, Mr. Skolnik, has previously supported it in public.

If used for proper education programs, there could be even more savings (along with more justice and public safety) in the long run.

Dahn Shaulis, Ph.D.

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