(Chuck Muth) – The Las Vegas SUN has a decidedly liberal editorial slant and detests Nevada Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.
It endorsed Democrat then-incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak in the gubernatorial race last year and referred to Lombardo – who spent a lifetime protecting Nevadans in the military and in law enforcement – as a “coward” on multiple occasions.
Let’s just say they’re not on each other’s Christmas card list.
All of which is fine. Political disagreements are normal in our country. But it’s not fine to lie about an issue just to take cheap shots at an elected official whose policies you despise.
Which brings us to Sunday’s SUN editorial. It starts off with this headline…
“Governor’s Education Demands Amount to Welfare for the Wealthy.”
No they don’t.
The SUN’s war on Lombardo is matched only by its green-eyed-with-envy war on successful people who, you know, work hard to provide a better life for their families and build businesses that create jobs and generate tax revenue rather than taking welfare handouts from taxpayers.
According to the SUN, the governor’s school choice proposals would “line Lombardo’s wealthy backers’ pockets with our tax dollars while shortchanging children throughout the state.”
First of all, the governor’s proposal includes a small but significant expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship program – which provides low-income, often minority students, scholarships funded by private businesses – and use the money so kids can attend a private, licensed school of their parents’ choice.
There’s also an income cap on the program, so the SUN’s detested “wealthy” can’t qualify for the scholarships. At present, the cap is set at $90,000 – and I don’t know of any family earning less than that who thinks they’re “wealthy.”
Secondly, as the SUN clearly knows, Nevada’s kids in public schools – managed by government bureaucrats and run by the teachers’ unions – are already being short-changed. Our government-owned schools are among the worst in the nation.
In a kinda funny twist, the SUN next argues against school choice because there supposedly aren’t enough private schools in rural counties.
First, I’ll bet if you did a poll on school choice, the poll would show far higher support in the rurals than in the urbans for Lombardo’s proposals. Secondly, this argument by the SUN demonstrates the paper’s absolute ignorance of how the private sector works.
If a bunch of rural families suddenly had, say, $5,000 scholarship checks in their hands to use for tuition, you can bet the private sector would find a way to open education facilities in those communities. It’s called “supply and demand.”
Right now, there’s no demand; therefore, there’s no supply.
And, yes, the SUN’s arguments are so weak it felt it necessary to refer to the scholarship program as “vouchers.” They’re not. That’s just a buzzword used by defenders of the failed status quo to agitate their ill-informed supporters.
But even if they actually were “vouchers,” so what?
Public tax dollars should be used for student EDUCATION, not necessarily public schools. We give “vouchers” (food stamps) to low-income people for groceries without forcing those folks to go to a government-run supermarket, right?
The SUN then continues to miss the point and undermine its own argument by claiming that “only 26%” of students currently receiving Opportunity Scholarships “saw increases in their standardized test scores after transferring from a public school.”
First, boosting performance by 26% for kids who otherwise were floundering is nothing to sneeze at. The government schools can’t say the same. In fact, the Nevada Report Card for last year shows only 43% of public school students are proficient in English and just 29% are proficient in math.
Secondly, performance on government-generated tests isn’t the only consideration. Among the more important considerations is school and classroom safety.
Indeed, in the middle of Gov. Lombardo holding a school choice roundtable at a private Las Vegas school two weeks ago – at which a number of students are currently receiving Opportunity Scholarships – a report came over the wire that a public school employee just a couple miles away had been shot on campus.
Regardless, the ultimate decision on where a family sends their kids to school should be up to the students’ parents or guardians, not the zip code where they live or the dictates of some pencil-pushing bureaucrat.
They’re OUR children, not yours. Period.
And when all else fails, naturally the SUN resorts to playing the “gay” card. It bellyaches that some private schools might not accept LGBTQ+EIEIO students “based on religious beliefs.”
Even if true, it would be rare.
But even if it wasn’t, if there’s enough demand for Opportunity Scholarship for non-heterosexual alphabet-soup students, the private sector will find a way to step in and meet the demand. Businesses don’t leave “free” money on the table.
If not, however, the students could still attend the government-run schools the SUN wants to force every child to attend. So where’s the beef?
In concluding its fake news editorial of misinformation, the SUN accuses Lombardo of wanting “to send our tax dollars to a narrow group of wealthy people and also to unaccountable and ineffective private institutions” with his “welfare-for-the-rich scheme.”
As opposed to the “unaccountable and ineffective” public schools.
And again, Opportunity Scholarships don’t go to the “wealthy” and “rich.” They’re means-tested for low- and middle-income families. Hating the successful doesn’t mean they’re included in the program.
So what’s the SUN’s solution?
Same ol’, same ol’…
“The proper answer is to expand the resources and spending – including teacher salaries – to make Nevada’s public education system greater than ever. … We should fund public schools so well – and support education so fully – that no parent feels the need for private education.”
Gov. Lombardo is proposing increasing the amount set aside for Opportunity Scholarships to only $50 million…while simultaneously giving the failure factories $2 BILLION!
And that’s on top of the billions in additional funding – including for teacher salaries (as if paying incompetent teachers more will suddenly make them better) – that was dumped into the failure factories thanks to 2015’s largest tax hike in state history.
Mo’ money won’t fix the broken public schools. That’s already been proven. However, a little more money for Opportunity Scholarships – a trickle by comparison – WILL help kids escape the failure factories.
Regardless, even if the private schools were as bad and the public schools (they’re not; not even close), that’s not the point. The point is it should be up to the PARENT, not the government, to decide what the PARENT, not the government, thinks is best for their kids.
Just like a parent choosing their kid’s doctor or dentist.
In lying about Gov. Lombardo’s education reform proposals, the SUN joins the “Bull Connor Democrats” in Carson City who are standing in the schoolhouse doors refusing to let low-income minority children out.
It’s shameful. It’s also par of the course over at the SUN.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“Some opponents (of school choice) claim this would be the death of public schools. Think about the unstated assumption there. Public schools offer an inferior product, and parents would leave if they had a chance. That’s reason enough to support school choice.” – Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.