E.g., 02/27/2024
E.g., 02/27/2024
Gambling on the Future: Managing the Education Challenges of Rapid Growth in Nevada
September 2008

Gambling on the Future: Managing the Education Challenges of Rapid Growth in Nevada

Between 1990 and 2006, Nevada was the fastest-growing state in the nation, owing its growth to significant increases in both the native and foreign-born population. This report views this population growth through an immigration and immigrant integration lens, and analyzes some of the educational challenges that the state will confront as it responds to rapid demographic change and prepares to meet future labor-market needs.

The report identifies three components of Nevada’s case that make it particularly unique. First, Nevada’s foreign born make up a substantial share of its total population, as opposed to other new destination states where immigrants represent a small share of the overall population.  Second, many of the low-skilled occupations that have absorbed immigrants are unionized and pay good wages that are on par with middle-class earnings. Third, Nevada’s elementary and secondary education system fares exceptionally poorly when it comes to student academic outcomes.

The report cautions that the stunning growth in Nevada’s immigrant and English language learner (ELL) populations, coupled with the poor performance of its schools, could jeopardize the labor market success of Nevada’s immigrants and poses a significant risk for the state’s economic productivity. Yet, Nevada does not weigh the number of ELLs in its state and local education funding formula. Additional English language instruction for the rapidly growing ELL student population—an important component of the future worker pipeline—is identified as a clear area of needed investment. In closing, the report recommends that policymakers in Nevada strategically invest in the state’s human resources by dedicating state funding for ELL instruction in order to increase the state’s long-term competitiveness.

Table of Contents 

I. Nevada’s “Demographic Exceptionalism”

II. Nevada’s “Labor Market Exceptionalism”

III. Nevada’s “Educational Exceptionalism”

Dramatic Population Growth of Children of Immigrants and English Learners

ELL Progress and Academic Achievement

Education Funding Issues

IV. Conclusion