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Higher Education

Why don’t Las Vegans care about education?

Ya gotta love Las Vegas.

And therein lies the problem. Most people here don’t.

We’re all just passing through. Las Vegas is a blip in our lives, an odd little stepping-stone. No community, people say, and that’s why they want to leave. Education is in the toilet. There’s no culture, and nobody’s doing anything to change that.

The xenophobia coming from longtime Las Vegans has reached a point where some are calling for natives to take back their city. They want the Las Vegas they had 20 years ago, and they’d just as soon everyone else leave. If things don’t change, people likely will leave—in droves.

Meanwhile, what we say we want for Las Vegas and what we actually do don’t match up. Polls indicate that Nevada residents would welcome taxes to fund education, but voters speak otherwise on Election Day. Sandoval said little to nothing about what he’d do if elected (other than not raise taxes), and that’s exactly what he’s doing—little to nothing. We can blame Sandoval for his ridiculous belief that slashing education will help economic recovery, but where do we place the blame for electing him?

When it comes to investing in the community, it’s always the same groups, the same small population, opening their wallets and giving their time while everyone else looks the other way. Every city has its big patrons, but that’s all Las Vegas has. Some residents still give to institutions in their former hometowns, rather than investing (financially and emotionally) in where they are now.

Maybe there’s no faith in our institutions or just no faith in this city. Or maybe it’s apathy, the same mentality of homeowners who insist on lush, green lawns, despite the fact that we’re in a desert, in a drought and quickly running dry.

Don Snyder, longtime Las Vegas businessman and board chair of the Smith Center, still talks about the challenges of recruiting non-gaming business to an area with few cultural and community offerings when he was heading the Nevada Development Authority. If UNLV is forced to make these cuts, things will only get worse. Right now fingers are pointed at the mining industry that wants to strip our land, but give nothing back in return. We should look at ourselves. We do the same thing.

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Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson joined the Las Vegas Sun in 1998 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, she turned her focus ...

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