Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga hopes to use his new Chiefs for Change membership to usher in a new modernized state education system. Chiefs for Change is a network of top-ranking state and local education officials who are committed to helping more children succeed nationwide. It allows education officials, such as Erquiaga, from around the country to talk, compare, and implement programs to enhance their school districts in each state.
“It is like a think tank and support group to look at the next step (for Nevada education),” Erquiaga said.
With this program, Erquiaga hopes to be able to get ideas and solutions to challenges facing Nevada’s education system in order to create a more modern and accountable system.
“I’m not out to change the system for change sake,” Erquiaga said. “I have an interest in modernizing and this gives me a subset of state and district chiefs with the same modernizing beliefs.”
Erquiaga said it’s a beneficial time to be included in the program with Nevada Legislature enacting several new laws to improve education.
“It is good that we now have access to outside ideas and planning for what may come next,” Erquiaga said. “The legislature enacted nearly all of Sandoval’s reforms and modernization, and now we are working to implement 34 legislations with the department and how to serve the districts.”
This is helpful for Erquiaga because typically with his position, he cannot discuss education ideas with other peers, and now he has the opportunity to talk with other officials in Chiefs for Change to see how they implemented similar policies and ideas to gather what worked best to apply similar ideas to Nevada education.
“Many students are underachieving and it is because we haven’t modernized to support diverse kids,” Erquiaga said. “We need to look to help with new ideas and programs that will work.”
Erquiaga first came in contact with the program in 2013 when he attended a National Assembly meeting where some of the organization’s chairs were. They invited him to look into the program because he and Gov. Sandoval had similar beliefs for their education agenda. In 2014, he attended some of the meetings for Chiefs for Change and joined at the end of May. The organization doesn’t charge for membership, so it’s free to taxpayers for Erquiaga to be involved.
“I am honored to be in the (Chiefs for Change) circle,” Erquiaga said. “Everyone of them is passionate about kids, and the challenge is that we all get caught up in adult problems and it is good to have that tough group to remind you it’s about the kids and that we have to change how we approach their problems.”