Let's focus on education priorities, not politics

By Felicia Ortiz

Just when I thought we couldn’t have more on our plates to deal with, the issue with carry over funds and AB2 has added another layer of drama.  I am frustrated by the amount of time and attention that has been put on this issue when there are so many other pressing issues to deal with.  I cannot understand why our governor and state superintendent would waste precious time pointing fingers [at Clark County Superintendent Jesus Jara] when there are people in our communities worried about where their next meal will come from or if they will have a job to go back to. 

I also cannot understand why some of our most outspoken Latino education advocates would fight to get a person of color, who really cares about kids, into this position and then turn around and be the first ones to call for his termination. What message does that send to our kids who are looking up to us as role models?

When I sat back and reflected a little, I realized I have been in this position myself. Years ago, I was a manager and the projects we were working on were chaotic and stressful.  We had very little control over the client or the outcome of the project.  I took my stress and frustration out on my employees. Rather than focusing on the problem and finding solutions, I blamed my employees. I used them as the scapegoat for what was going wrong.  I ended up losing an employee — and a friend. I see a lot of parallels in what is happening today.  

We are all overwhelmed with figuring out how/when to reopen schools, how to personally stay healthy, how to do the right thing for our marginalized neighbors and students, and how to tackle the budget shortfall.  Many of those things we have very little control over and the work may feel overwhelming. So when an issue that has a pretty clear right and wrong answer came up, people were quick to put their focus on something they could control and find a scapegoat to blame. I am by no means saying anyone is innocent in any of this. However, I question whether this is where we really need to spend our time and energy right now.

To our Clark County School District trustees, please ask yourselves: is this the right time to be addressing the termination of your only employee? Have you as leaders and managers done everything in your power to mentor, guide and support your employee? Remember, the success or failure of an organization is a direct reflection of leadership, and you are the leaders!  Is your time (and his) best used addressing this now or should you be focusing on making sure our teachers and staff have the resources they need to deliver a quality education in a safe and healthy way to all kids?  

To the governor and state superintendent, I challenge you to focus on doing the right thing for our future generation.  They are depending on us adults to do right by them. Suggesting cuts to several of the programs that directly affects our most vulnerable students sends the message that you truly don’t value ALL kids.  

I challenge you all to evaluate your priorities. Is it more important to spend time trying to terminate the superintendent (and playing politics) or should we all be spending our time and energy focused on finding revenue sources that prevent us from cutting funding for education?

Felicia Ortiz was born and raised in Las Vegas. In February 2016, she was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to the State Board of Education as the District 3 representative.