Shining a light on Sunrise Acres

By Jon Ralston

Covering education issues in Nevada for three decades-plus has been frustrating.

As a political reporter and columnist, I have written thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands -- of words about the topic. But it has been from a distance, like being on a plane at 30,000 feet and knowing what is below but not seeing anything as clearly as you would like.

I know the numbers. I hear the frustrations. I get emails.

So when our education reporter, Jackie Valley, came up with the idea of essentially embedding herself at a school for the year, I didn’t hesitate. You will see the fruits of her labors beginning today on the site -- a five-part series that provides a window into what life is like at one elementary school in Las Vegas. But it does more than that, and it is a tribute to Jackie’s remarkable powers of observation and writing skills that she accomplishes something else, too: Sunrise Acres, through this series, becomes an emblem for the Clark County School District and, perhaps, even more.

It shows the kinds of issues that teachers, kids and parents experience at so many schools, here and elsewhere. It is an unvarnished portrait of life at a school that struggles but that has surmounted so many obstacles because of the dedication of a remarkable principal, an indomitable staff and resilient students.

These are stories, beautifully illustrated by photojournalist Jeff Scheid with a wonderful design provided by Peter Vogt and CJ Keeney, that will stun you, make you angry and bring you to tears.

Jackie pulls back the curtain on her reporting here. But if you have any questions, if you want to respond to any of these stories -- and we hope you do -- please email Jackie at or email me directly at Our hope is that everyone -- including legislators who often make policies from that same 30,000 feet -- will learn from this series. I know I did.