(Todd Taxpayer Bailey) – In the Spring of 2010, Washoe County School District’s representative on the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group put forward Finland as an example of a country who invests and gets results in education. This was echoed by other members of the group, who also talked up Scandinavia in general as leaders in the growth through education economic model.
Much of this testimony was folded into the final Vision Stakeholder Report in various ways, and would’ve been used to make an academic argument for a Corporate Income Tax or Gross Receipts Tax, except many of the assumptions made by the group eventually led to intellectual bankruptcy. This was recognized by the Nevada Legislature (specifically Senator Raggio on Face To Face), and the state was refunded some of the money paid to consultants. The original amount paid for the consultant to the Nevada Vision Stakeholders was over $250,000 to develop the report.
Unfortunately for Nevada Taxpayers, so many of the assumptions in the Vision Stakeholder report were just wrong, and based on slanted statements from people who directly benefit from taxation. There is no one source of what works in education, in fact, the best seem to be made specific for the communities they are in, not far away places like Finland. It is doubtful that the people in Nevada will create an economy or education system that is anything like Finland. A European Socialist economy, with three teachers in every classroom, this solution does not even get a response from officials at Washoe County School District, even though it was their representative that made the suggestion.
Since the Finland assumption was put into the Vision Stakeholder Report, the facts have changed. Finland is not the best, China is, specifically, Shanghai. This is great news for the Chinese Communist Party, as they want every business in the world to believe they have the best students in the world, ready to serve without question, just like they do for the party. The testing results are according to the Program for International Student Assessment (2009 PISA), which tested 15 year old students in 65 countries in Reading, Math, and Science. To be fair, Finland did do well on the test, but they were not the best.
It would be interesting to know how the students of Washoe County School District would do on the PISA Test, however, this should not be mis-read as a request for another student test. The district already does too much testing.
Do we really want to duplicate Shanghai, China? A controlled economy, most teenagers working in factories not schools, and student selection for schools is based on connections to the Communist Party? That’s just not going to work in Nevada. The results on the PISA test were obviously stacked in China’s favor, cherry picking students for a specific geographic area. Asia as whole did very well, it’s just not easy to draw any general conclusions since the area is so diverse, and a much different culture than Nevada ever will be.
So if it’s not going to be China, and it’s not going to be Finland, then who’s example are we going to follow? None of the above, it will be a Nevada solution, that borrows from the best, and is economically sustainable in Nevada.
Freeing parents and students to make their own education choices, and letting the tax money follow is the key. This will create competition beyond anything currently being considered. Will it ever be like China or Finland? No, because Nevada will never be like those countries, however, once parents and students have choices, the education results may be as good, or even better.
Of course, nothing like student and parent choice made into the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Report. Can a free market system of education do better than the centrally controlled systems of Finland and China? It is a question most policy makers seem unwilling to answer, except one.
Governor Brian Sandoval, and many of his staff, are graduates of the education system here in Nevada, and therefore know it’s true value beyond the list of the day. They seem to have the confidence and willingness to lead. It’s not the amount of money Nevada spends, it’s how it is spent that will lead to the Nevada Solution.
(Todd Taxpayer Bailey is a new media publisher and chair of Jobs For Nevada PAC)