Over the past few months, I've been asked about my stance on education more than any other topic.  And that's fine with me because I think education of our citizens is probably the most important thing we can do - after securing public safety.  (As the saying goes, if we're not safe, not much else matters.) So once we have a handle on how to secure our families, the most important thing we can do is to educate them.  That's probably why Education takes the lion's share of our state budget.

I put education above just about everything else simply because it drives our success in everything else.  If we don't have the necessary tools, we can't get the jobs we need.  If we don't have an educated workforce - one that is educated in the skills businesses actually need (not what federal bureaucrats tell us we should learn) - the businesses of the future won't come to Nevada. In fact, due to the technological advances that are coming fast, we have to act just as swiftly to learn the skills we need in order to take advantage of the opportunities.  We simply will not be able to grow our economy without the foundation of a good education.  

There are many who would say that they want to "create jobs," but how do they intend to do it?  Many seek office on 30-second soundbites without so much as having stepped into a classroom once they are no longer the student.  But those of us that have experience as a teacher or administrator have insights that many others simply haven't had the opportunity to obtain.  I've taught in a public school.  I taught algebra and architectural drafting at the high-school level. I taught students who were there to learn the skills they would need to go straight into the profession.  It was astonishing to me to see how hard it was to get the resources needed as a teacher to provide that instruction.  I am determined to do what I can to get those resources into the hands of those who are training our next generation of business owners and job creators.  They deserve our best effort.  

And we can't ignore those that have been out of school for a while who want to improve their skills to get better jobs.  I was one of them.  At 46 years of age, I found myself unemployed and back in a classroom to "re-tool" after the construction industry fell off the cliff.  Education reforms should include increased opportunities for everyone to get better skills.  The idea that "a rising tide lifts all boats" assumes everyone has a boat that will float.  Let's make sure we get as many good boats in the water as we can. 

Keith Pickard