September 17, 2008
Contact: Michelle Mittelstadt
WASHINGTON – Nevada, the fastest growing state in the
United States due to immigrant and native-born population growth,
is facing significant challenges when it comes to education and
future economic competitiveness, according to a report released
today by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).
on the Future: Managing the Education Challenges of Rapid Growth
in Nevada, identifies additional English
language instruction for the rapidly growing English language
learner (ELL) student population as a clear area of needed investment.
Nevada’s ELL population surged 208 percent
between 1994 and 2006, compared to a 61 percent ELL enrollment growth nationally.
Yet federal funding for Nevada ELL students fell sharply in 2007, and Nevada,
unlike most other states with large ELL populations, doesn’t allocate additional
state funds to districts with high ELL enrollment.
“Nevada faces real risks
if it continues to ignore the importance of educating English
language learners and the children of immigrants,” said
report co-author Michael Fix, who is co-director of MPI’s
National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “Failure
to do so could jeopardize future growth in Nevada’s economic
Though Nevada’s labor market has been
exceptional in providing middle-class wages for low-skill jobs,
the state’s economic and diversification plans
will require attracting more high-skilled workers to Nevada or
producing more skilled workers in the state.
elementary and secondary education system is stressed and can
be viewed in many ways as underperforming by national standards.
The report, authored by MPI Research Assistant Aaron Terrazas
and Fix, notes that Nevada:
- Ranks 50th among states in the number of high school graduates
who enroll in college.
- Has the lowest high school graduation rate in the nation,
- Ranks 44th in public education spending
At the same time, Nevada’s total school population grew
faster than any other state’s between 1994 and 2005, rising
52 percent. To keep pace with the growth, the Clark County School
District (which includes Las Vegas) opened an average of one
new school each month between 2004 and 2006.
With one out of four
workers in Nevada an immigrant, and the children of immigrants
accounting for one of every three Nevadans under age 18, the
state faces key challenges – and opportunities.
“Because of its demographic, educational and labor-market
exceptionalism, Nevada offers a powerful, if distinct, laboratory
for immigrant integration,” Fix said.
The report is available
online at: www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/NCIIP_Nevada.pdf
The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan,
non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of
the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development
and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local,
national and international levels.