28 Apr Matthew McCarty
Elko County School Board District 3
Campaign Contact Phone: 775-934-2892
Please share briefly what inspired you to run for this office and why you feel you’re qualified for the position.
I applied for appointment to this office because what I was seeing was not the atmosphere that I was raised in, here in Elko County. The behavior of some members of our community was disappointing to see and our students and community needed support, not hostility. I felt, and still do, that I can provide assistance to our students, faculty and staff, and community through respectful representation based on open communication and level-headed decision making for the best outcome for our kids. I have now had a number of months to begin to understand how the District operates and what can be done to help guide the future for our students. I believe the District is on track and I want to assist in helping to keep it moving in the right direction. Additionally, I feel I am qualified because I have tried to give back to our community for more than 20 years in various roles, including as an elected member of the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority Board, Boy Scouts of America Leader, Chamber of Commerce Board Member, Little League Coach, and member of multiple civic clubs. I feel these roles have given me a well-rounded experience and connections throughout the County. In leveraging these experiences and connections, I believe I can continue to represent our community well. Perhaps most importantly though, I believe I am qualified because I can analyze a situation and vote impartially on subjects without a personal agenda affecting my judgement.
How do you propose that more funding be allocated to public education?
The Nevada Legislature established the Commission on School Funding which has recommended more than doubling the amount of funding needed for education to reach optimal levels. In order to reach optimal funding levels, reductions in other areas of the state budget will be required and I believe there is room for some cuts. However, funding cuts alone will not get us to where we need to be regarding the optimal funding goal. Therefore, additional revenues would be needed, unpopular as it may be to say. Changing legislatively restricted property taxes will be needed, as will a re-evaluation of the sales and use tax, most likely to include at least some services to be taxed. The citizens of the State of Nevada need to decide if funding education will take priority and if we are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary.
Parents are frustrated with the performance of public schools, its apparent nonresponsiveness to the community, and its current poor performance with student outcomes. What are your thoughts on how we can support public education and change this situation?
I believe that performance has declined for a number of reasons, including additional requirements in classrooms to meet standardized testing, more distracted students, less engaged parents, and employment challenges for Districts. Improving performance will require honest and open discussions about each of these issues. As for the non-responsiveness of Districts, I think the only solutions are communication and education. Due to Open Meeting Law requirements, direct engagement during public meetings can lead to problems if such engagement leads to Board action at a later date. Furthermore, many of our neighbors don’t understand the limitations School Boards have in implementing change. Therefore, it is the Board’s responsibility to communicate those limitations as often as necessary to help educate the public. Equally important, the public also has a responsibility to education themselves and to initiate the changes they want in the manner that is allowed by law.
How would you propose changing the current funding formula to make it more equitable for children from poverty, English Language Learners and special education students?
The Pupil Centered Funding Plan is still in its infancy and we need to give it a chance to work as designed. With that said, each child should be treated equitably, with their individual needs identified and provided for accordingly.
There is a rise of bullying and racism in our schools. If elected, what steps would you make to ensure that our children can safely attend school?
There are more than 30 Statutes regarding bullying and nearly another 10 parts to Nevada Administrative Code, which should be enforced. The answer is not more legislation or government involvement. Instead, I believe this should be handled closer to home, literally in the home, as that is where teaching begins. Parents need to continue to be made aware of situations involving their children so that they can correct acts of bullying and racism. Students who continue to be an aggressor should not be allowed back in school. Furthermore, all students need to understand the difference between bullying and unkind remarks. I believe that some people in today’s society are seeing problems where none exist and offering defense where none is needed; defending our kids against all perceived ills does not make them stronger.
Comprehensive, age and developmentally appropriate, medically-accurate, inclusive sex education has been proven to improve students’ long-term health outcomes, yet it is not required that students be provided with this information in their sex-ed programs. Do you believe that public school sex-ed programs should be comprehensive, medically accurate, and inclusive?
It has been a long time since I attended sex education and I have not reviewed the current curriculum. Therefore, I don’t know that the claim made in this question is accurate nor do I know exactly what is meant by “comprehensive, medically accurate, and inclusive”. Age and developmentally appropriate education is necessary, regardless of the topic. Sex education should continue to be taught with the permission of parents. Anecdotally, it appears that our children are becoming sexually mature, and sexually active, younger and younger. Addressing the biological realities of sex, and sexual maturity, in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate is important.
Do you support ending the use of pepper spray on students by the school district police? Yes or No, and why?
No. Law enforcement needs to have every tool available to them. I trust that our law enforcement officials will use the appropriate force. Those individuals who use inappropriate force should be removed from their positions, though removing the entire law enforcement department’s ability to control a situation should be up to law enforcement, not the general public.
Post Covid we have many students who have not been able to catch up in their learning. It is particularly alarming that the younger students, who did not acquire reading skills during remote learning, are very far behind in reading proficiency. At the other end, we have seen a drop in Nevada’s high school graduation rates, with minorities, special ed, and ELLs now suffering a significant graduation gap. How do we address the needs of the Covid generation?
Unfortunately, whether because parents could not, or would not, assist their children with their education while students could not attend school, there is a gap. I feel that spending a limited amount of time on targeted education, both in school and at home, will best help students, regardless of why they are behind. More must be done outside of school hours to help our students advance.
What is your position on legislation such as Don’t Say Gay, and forcing transgender children to use bathrooms of their birth sex?
I am not aware of any legislation titled “Don’t Say Gay”. If you are referring to Florida House Bill 1557, I am disappointed that organizations use divisive language to rile people up, rather than asking questions in a neutral, non-aggressive manner. Only in approaching topics factually will we, as a society, be able to have honest, open discussions.
To the question at hand, I am generally in favor of Florida House Bill 1557. Parents have rights and should be informed of what happens to their children without prohibition or interference. Again, all education should be age and developmentally appropriate. Sex education, including sexual orientation and gender identity, should not be taught before fourth grade, if even then. I respect every individual, though frankly I currently feel that laws requiring schools to allow for student bathroom choice are misguided and unnecessary. This is particularly true since Districts do not have resources to provide for individual bathrooms to make everyone comfortable. However, the law is the law and I will uphold the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of Nevada.
What is your position on restorative justice?
Restorative justice, as defined by NRS 392.472, is an overreach in my opinion, as today’s schools are asked to do more, with fewer resources, to make up for a lack of appropriate support at home. It is not the responsibility of schools to provide intervention and support regarding an improvement in behavior, let alone remedying any harm caused by the student. This responsibility rests solely with the family of the student to teach these types of lessons at home. If schools are going to be responsible for this type of action, then they should be given every means possible, including punitive and physical measures, to correct undesirable behavior. Otherwise, families need to be accountable, and be held accountable, for the actions of their children.