Here I thought Democrats did everything “for the children”?

by Chuck Muth
April 6, 2009

As you may or may not know, tucked into President Obama’s “spendulus” package was a provision killing a school voucher pilot program in Washington, DC.

The public schools in our nation’s capital enjoy one of the highest levels of per-pupil spending while dragging the bottom of the barrel in education results, which should tell you all you need to know about whether or not dumping more money into this failed Soviet-style education monopoly will ever fix it. The Wall Street Journal editorialized about the royal screwing Dem-Obama just gave to many of DC’s kids this morning…

“The latest annual evaluation (of the DC voucher school program) was finally released Friday, and it shows measurable academic gains. The Opportunity Scholarship Program provides $7,500 vouchers to 1,700 low-income families in D.C. to send their children to private schools. Ninety-nine percent of the children are black or Hispanic, and there are more than four applicants for each scholarship.

“The 2008 report demonstrated progress among certain subgroups of children but not everyone. This year’s report shows statistically significant academic gains for the entire voucher-receiving population.

“Children attending private schools with the aid of the scholarships are reading nearly a half-grade ahead of their peers who did not receive vouchers. Voucher recipients are doing no better in math but they’re doing no worse. Which means that no voucher participant is in worse academic shape than before, and many students are much better off.

“‘There are transition difficulties, a culture shock upon entering a school where you’re expected to pay attention, learn, do homework,’ says Jay Greene, an education scholar at the Manhattan Institute. ‘But these results fit a pattern that we’ve seen in other evaluations of vouchers. Benefits compound over time.'”

The WSJ concludes that “The decision to let 1,700 poor kids get tossed from private schools is a moral disgrace. It also exposes the ugly politics that lies beneath union and liberal efforts across the country to undermine…charter schools, vouchers or any reform that threatens their monopoly over public education dollars and jobs.”

Moral disgrace, indeed. Which brings us to Nevada.

Many of our own state’s government-run unionized publik skools suck almost as bad as DC’s. And the “solution” put forward by the teacher’s union and education bureaucrats here is, of course and always, to just give them mo’ money.

To their ever-lasting shame, a number of clueless and/or misguided Republican state legislators recently voted with every Democrat state legislator for the third largest tax hike in state history – the money from which will eventually just go into the unionized government school system for pay raises with zero accountability. As if paying bad teachers a higher salary will somehow miraculously suddenly make them good teachers.

Meanwhile, conservative Republican Assemblyman Ed Goedhart introduced a responsible education reform bill (AJR 4: The Excellence In Education and Increased Opportunities Act…or EIEIO for short) which would provide parents with education tax rebates they could use to send their kids to a private school of their choice. The rebates would be a life ring for many of Nevada’s low- and middle-income children who are suffering educationally as badly as their public school counter-parts in DC.

But just like Washington’s Democrats, Nevada’s Democrats are telling Nevada’s school children to take a flying leap. Not only won’t Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley allow a vote on EIEIO, she won’t even allow a HEARING on the bill where parents and other supporters would be able to testify on the merits of the proposal before the deadline for such hearings this Friday.

Without objection, by the way, from Republican Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert.

With a 28-14 super-majority in the Assembly, it’s hard to understand what Ms. Buckley is afraid of. She has more than enough votes to kill the bill. So why not allow at least a discussion on the proposal?

And it’s not like they don’t have enough time. After all, legislators found time to debate what Nevada’s official state bug should be. Aren’t our children at least as important as the vivid dancer damselfly?

As with Congress, it is a moral disgrace for Democrats and some Republicans in the Nevada Legislature to just keep dumping more money into our failed public schools without allowing parents an “opt-out” alternative so that another generation of kids isn’t condemned to education mediocrity just to mollify a politically powerful special interest which doesn’t give a damn about our children but only about its dues-paying members.

There’s still time for Speaker Buckley to right this wrong and at least allow a last-minute hearing on EIEIO before Friday’s deadline. If you think the citizens and children of Nevada deserve to have their Legislature at least hear an alternative to our present monopolized union-run school system money pit, please call or email Speaker Buckley and ask her to allow a hearing on AJR 4.

Phone: (775) 684-8537

EIEIO is a good program but the Nevada GOP leadership is spineless and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.