Jen Morris really values education. So much so that she's thinking about moving her family out of the state they've lived in for decades.
The "Kids Count" report released Wednesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation placed Nevada last in education and 48th overall in the U.S. The foundation is a private charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of children.
The report found that three-quarters of Nevada fourth graders were not proficient in reading last year, and 71 percent of eighth graders weren't proficient in math. The state topped the nation in the portion of 3- and 4-year-olds not enrolled in preschool between 2008 and 2010, and led the country in the highest proportion -- 44 percent -- of high school students who fail to graduate in four years.
"It might not be the best place to raise kids anymore," Morris told KLAS-TV. "We want our kids to be exposed to have the most opportunity and if school's not going to help us out with that, we have to possibly look elsewhere."
The sluggish economy and budget cuts are big factors in the state's low education ranking, Nevada Kids Count Executive Director Stephen Brown told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Last month, 400 teacher layoff notices were released in Clark County alone.
School officials say the report serves as impetus for reform. Proposals in the Nevada legislature last year suggested overriding collective bargaining laws and making tenure more difficult to obtain for teachers. They would also allow abolish teacher layoff practices that are solely based on seniority.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval was also recently elected as the next chair of the Education Commission of the States, aimed at bringing state policymakers and education leaders together to share ideas and experiences in improving education.
Still, Nevada at present faces fewer teachers and larger class sizes. One Las Vegas kindergarten class started the year last fall with 41 students. With five kids currently in school, time may not be on this family's side.
"The idea of having to move for something like this does break my heart… but kids come first," Morris told KLAS-TV.
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