Rene Cantu

Rene Cantu

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for Nevada State Board of Education 4


Candidate contact information:

Email address:

Phone number: 7028103068







Please share briefly what inspired you to run for this office and why you feel you’re qualified for the position.


I have wanted to run for some time. My focus is education, because that has been my lifelong passion, and I have dedicated my career to opening the doors of opportunity through education. In this economic downturn, many will wish to shortchange our kids' education, and our very future in Nevada depends on providing students the best education possible and using every penny wisely.


What are your views on providing age-appropriate, medically-accurate, culturally-inclusive sex-ed to Nevada’s students?


Values are taught in the home as they should be. However, students need scientifically based knowledge about reproduction and human sexuality. A parent may opt to allow their children to participate in sex-ed.


If elected, what strategies or policies can be implemented to keep racially-based threats and other discriminatory behaviors out of our schools to keep our children safe?


There is a need to more effectively monitor social media activities by schools, parents and law enforcement, and to develop procedures for timely reporting of these threats. These tools must allow for anonymity and be non-punitive, and they must protect the individual reporting concerns. We must invest in training that focuses not only on differences, but on the things that we have in common. We must develop means for people of different opinions in the school system to engage in open dialogue. Our commonality needs to go beyond tribe or nation and focus on our commonality as people.


What do you believe is the best approach to ensure all of Nevada’s children have access to a quality education?


Ensuring that the new K-12 funding formula, which was passed in 2019 be implemented. That formula represents a much needed modernization where dollars are tied to students and follows those students all the way down to the classroom. When dollars are not earmarked this way, it allows for grave disparities in funding to develop. Funding for gifted, ELL, and students with disabilities must be invested in the students who need them and not allotted in a genrral pot to be spent as the school wishes.


What steps should be taken to ensure the safety of Nevada’s children in our schools and communities? How would you specifically address the potential for gun violence in our schools?


As a gun owner, I believe in the right to keep and bear arms. That said, we must keep guns from mentally unstable, radicalized/extremist groups/terrorists, and we must limit the number of automatic weapons readily available to anyone. High capacity magazines, bump stocks and other tools of mass murder must be banned.


How should Nevada address the ongoing difficulties to effectively and equitably fund public schools across the diverse landscape of the state? How will you use your position to address this issue?


As my answer above states, my commitment is to ensuring that the new K-12 funding formula not only be implemented, but also adequately funded to improve our outcomes as a state. Our economic well-being is inextricably tied to the quality of our education system. Therefore, we must make appropriate investments in education, and include accountability to ensure funds are spent wisely and to the maximum benefit of students. I would leverage my position to advocate on behalf of the board of education, and more importantly for everyday Nevadans and residents of District 4.


What do you see as the government’s role in providing students with access to different education choices (including magnet programs, charter schools, homeschooling, etc) to meet a variety of unique needs? What standards do you think should apply across schooling options?



While most industries have evolved and kept up with the times, our education is still largely based on the factory model. The definition of success has also focused on entry to university. According to Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, more than half of Nevada's jobs today require some college but not a four year degree--these are called middle skills jobs. I have a passion for creating pipelines for students of our institutions to prepare for these well-paying middle skills jobs through stackable certificates, associate's degrees, apprenticeships and short-term training. The focus of my educational career has focused on the transition from K-12 to high demand job in key industries important for Nevada's economy.



What are the biggest issues facing the education community in Nevada, and how do you propose to solve them?


We still rank among the lowest ranking states in high school graduation, and the Kids Count data book shows we have much work to do in kids' education, health and well-being. Solving Nevada's problems will require that K-12, higher education, business, industry and nonprofits work better together to solve our state's educational woes. Solutions must be focused on continual improvement, accountability, incentives and outcomes. If a strategy does not work, it must be discarded for a better way of solving the question at hand.


How can Nevada disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline to ensure that students are not prematurely introduced to the criminal justice system?



It costs sabout 21K to incarcerate one person per year. Programs like jobs for Nevada's Graduates cost about 1/14th of that cost ($1,400) per student and are yielding high graduation (97%) and employment outcomes (95%). We must invest in programs like J4NG, that work.



How should our schools address gender-diverse policies to ensure the safety of all Nevada’s students?



Thes problems must be addressed with great amounts of dialogue, a respect for all members of the community, and a respect for each other. When we as a community begin worrying more about the rights of our fellows rather than our own selfish rights, we will begin to make progress on seemingly intractable problems like this. That said, when a person needs to use bathroom facilities, I do not want big brother or sister standing over their shoulders or checking to see what biological sex they are assigned.



Across Nevada, Spanish speaking parents struggle to receive assistance and attention in their children’s schools because many schools with high Latino student populations fail to provide bilingual front office staff readily available to assist parents. What is your position on passing legislation that would offer schools with significant Latino and ELL (English Language Learner) student populations funding to hire bilingual staff designated for parental engagement in the school’s administrative office?



As a bilingual (Spanish) person myself, I believe that having teachers in the lives of students who share similar cultures is important. In my own schooling, it was critical, and many of my role models shared my own cultural heritage. When a school has staff who speak the family's language, that family will be comfortable coming into the building. I think about my friend Maria Lupita Romero at Valley High school who has proven to be an asset not only to students, but also to their parents and the whole school because she shares a language and a culture with these families.

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