(David Mansdoerfer) – A lot has been made of the recent Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) legislative report card. To some, this report card shows what the highly partisan teacher union thinks of Republicans (worthless pond scum). To others, it shows what the NSEA thinks education reform looks like – continuing with the state quo. However, if you look at the numbers, outside of the ridiculous weighted system they concocted, not a single legislator received better than a D.
Find the excel spreadsheet with NSEA ratings – pre-bias here.
What makes these ratings even more worthless is how they are weighted to clearly benefit Democrat legislators. For instance, SB315, which was authored by Republican Senator Kieckhefer, was included in the NSEA ratings. They even went so far to state, “through working with the sponsor, the bill was amended and true education reform was passed.”
So, by working with NSEA to amend SB315, one would think that Senator Kieckhefer would receive a positive score in NSEA’s weighted system. Yet, as would be expected from a highly partisan organization grading legislators based off of their personal feelings towards them, Senator Kieckhefer did not receive a special bonus for working with the NSEA to enact education reform. In fact, not a single Republican legislator received a special bonus.
When asked about the NSEA ratings, Senator Kieckhefer responded, “I was glad that in its report card the union complimented me for working with them, as I did throughout the session. I never turned down a meeting with the union’s lobbyists, and any suggestion that I was inaccessible during the session is a flat-out lie.”
Looking deeper into the scoring, it is very clear that Democrats received, at a minimum, a 20 point benefit just for being Democrat. However, the NSEA must have had some very special relationships with a few legislators up in Carson City.
For instance, Assemblyman Munford, who received the highest non-rated score in the entire legislature, only managed to scrape by with a B after the NSEA lobbyists rated him. Other Democrats, such as Assemblyman Pierce, Atkinson, Horne and Neal, all received top-marks even though they all received non-weighted scores less than Assemblyman Munford.
When asked about the NSEA ratings, Assemblyman Goedhart, who received an F but actually scored higher than Democrat Assemblyman Anderson, Brooks and Conklin, stated, “I am more than a little confused that the NSEA has given me a failing grade on my voting record concerning educational issues, despite my votes in support of legislation upon which this grade was derived. I hope that this grading inconsistency is not reflective of a bias against Republicans who solidly support education, while encouraging robust reforms to the union model of education delivery.”
Senator Michael Roberson, who also received a failing grade stated, “The NSEA scorecard reinforces what conservatives and education reformers have long-known, that the teachers union supports the failing status quo in education and opposes meaningful reform, all to the detriment of Nevada’s children. The NSEA is now simply broadcasting to the larger world just how out-of-touch and increasingly irrelevant the teachers union has become.
The Democrats in the legislature are still clearly the party of the status quo in education and they are still deeply in the pocket of the teachers union. So, to the extent the teachers union has now decided to eat their own, I’m not sure it was a wise move on their part.”
Legislative ratings can be extremely useful in helping the public understand what happens up in Carson City. Yet, when those ratings include personal bias towards legislators, they become entirely worthless.
But even though these ratings are absolutely worthless, Senator Kieckhefer is proud of the results. “I’m not surprised I received an “F.” In fact … I’ll wear it proudly. The union is the organization working to protect the status quo in education. I’d be disappointed if they actually supported me because the vast majority of Nevadans know something that the union just can’t seem to grasp … the status quo isn’t good enough.”
(Mr. Mansdoerfer is the Director of Legislative Affairs for Citizen Outreach. He holds a masters degree in public policy with an emphasis in international relations and state & local policy from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. You can follow him on Twitter at @DPMANSDOERFER )