Smells like statistics |

Smells like statistics

What's the difference between a public school in Mississippi and one in Nevada?

In Mississippi, they pay more for education, but the students have lower achievement, according to "Education Week," which listed Nevada dead last in the nation with a score of 65.

That's an average of three scores, school finance, K-12 achievement and something the magazine calls "chance for success," which includes family income, parent education and employment.

We're pretty sure none of those are things the government is responsible for, and it's pretty clear that folks living in high-cost states are getting a bump.

Last month, the publication released its state highlight report. While Nevada is last overall, it actually scores higher than several states in some categories.

In K-12 achievement, there are 13 states that score below the Silver State.

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Where Nevada gets seriously dinged is in school finance, but even there it isn't dead last. That honor belongs to Idaho, which scores a couple of points above Nevada in K-12 achievement.

Mark Twain included statistics with lies and damn lies, and the "Education Week" results are a clear example of what he was talking about.

Those who believe in public education will claim Nevada needs to spend more. Those who don't will say spending more doesn't make any difference.

That leaves it to us to step up and say Nevada is getting better value than say, Alaska, which spends way more and also gets less.

And without Clark County, which is the sixth-largest school district in the entire nation, the rest of Nevada would climb quite a ways despite the same financing.

We don't begrudge teachers a decent paycheck or our students a decent education.

But driving that effort by constantly denigrating the schools devalues them for both the folks who provide an education and those who should be receiving one.