(Chuck Muth) – In response to Gov. Jim Gibbons’ announcement that he will propose a universal school choice bill in the upcoming special session, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford’s knee-jerk reaction was to declare it “unconstitutional.”
Interesting….since Sen. Horsford hadn’t even seen the language of the bill and, therefore, couldn’t possibly know if it was unconstitutional or not.
The problem is Sen. Horsford is probably under the same wrong impression as two Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters who wrote today that “the governor’s plan would give vouchers…to the private schools where parents want to send their children.”
Due to an anti-Catholic clause in Nevada’s constitution, such a plan WOULD be unconstitutional. However, the courts have ruled that if vouchers are given directly to the PARENTS and not directly to the private schools, then they ARE constitutional.
And if the governor’s proposal is along the same education tax credit line as the proposal submitted by Assemblyman Ed Goedhart (R-Amargosa Valley) in last year’s session (the “Excellence in Education and Increased Opportunities,” otherwise known as the EIEIO Act), it will be constitutional.
Sen. Horsford also complained that vouchers “would decimate funding of our public schools.”
First and foremost, the government’s obligation is to fund public education, not public schools. Our objective is an educated population. That does not mean the government itself has to provide the service.
Think of it this way: As a compassionate society, we also feel compelled to make sure the poor can eat. So we give them food vouchers (stamps) to use in private supermarkets. We don’t make them go to a government-run grocery store in their neighborhood.
That said, the biggest gripe we hear from educators these days is about how horrible it would be if class sizes were to grow. Really? Well, Gov. Gibbons’ voucher proposal would take care of that problem as well.
Let’s say you have 30 kids in a classroom. Now suddenly parents are offered vouchers to pull their kids out of those classrooms and put them in a private school. Many parents who otherwise couldn’t afford to send their children to better private schools will LEAP at the chance to yank their kids out of all those failing public school classrooms.
Boom! Class size reduction. And it didn’t cost a penny more than we’re currently spending.
But wait. As they say on late-night TV….there’s more.
According to Gov. Gibbons, the amount of the vouchers he’s proposing will be equal to 75 percent of the $5,400 per pupil the government currently gives to each government school. So parents would receive a voucher in the amount of $4,050 with the remaining balance staying with the government school which no longer has to educate the child!
Personally, I think parents should get 100 percent of what the government is spending per pupil, but I suspect parents will take what they can get to save their children from a rotten education.
The point is, vouchers mean smaller classrooms and additional per-pupil funding for students whose parents opt to keep their kids in the government schools.
Who could argue with that? I mean, other than the teachers union and legislative Democrats. And probably Rory Reid.
And finally, perhaps the single most ill-informed objection to school vouchers comes from, not surprisingly, the Nevada Department of Education.
The educrats testified at a recent hearing that there are about 3,000 students currently attending private schools in Nevada and there are hardly any openings to accommodate all the kids who would want to go to a private school if universal school vouchers are offered.
OK, first things first. What does it tell you that almost all the seats currently available in private schools are taken?
Exactly. That there’s a tremendous demand out there for private school education from parents who have the financial means to afford it.
Secondly, what do you think will happen if thousands upon thousands of poor and middle-class families are given the same opportunity via an education voucher to send their kids to a private school despite the fact that CURRENTLY there aren’t enough seats?
Exactly. The private schools will do what the private sector does best. It satisfies demand with increased supply. When private schools see all those parents flooding into their hallways waving $4,050 vouchers, bet your bottom dollar they’ll find a way to increase the number of classes and seats in their schools.
But it’ll be even better than that. Universal education vouchers will unleash the creative forces of the free market. Suddenly you’ll see specialty schools focusing on music, arts, business, science, technology and maybe even sports.
You’ll see schools established which focus on providing quality education to students who don’t speak English. You’ll see schools created with flexible hours to accommodate Nevada’s 24/7 workforce. You’ll see far more schools taking advantage of online educational opportunities.
You’ll see choices you never dreamed possible. Choices heretofore only the wealthy could afford. The simple fact is that only way to get better schools is to open the doors of competition and give low- and middle-class parents not only the right to choose what school they send their children to, but the means to exercise that choice.
Back in the “old days,” poor minority students couldn’t get into the good public schools because government authorities stood in the doorway and wouldn’t let them in. Today, government authorities such as Sen. Horsford are standing in school doorways and refusing to let our children out.
If Sen. Horsford won’t do the right thing and step aside, then it’s high time for parents to knock him down and walk over him. Let our children go! So let it be written; so let it be done.