School Choice: Let’s take the power back from the bureaucrats!

June 11, 2018

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By: Eugene Hoover

As a father of five, I know first-hand that parents know better than bureaucrats when it comes to their children’s education. That’s why I am a strong supporter of school choice and competition and why I oppose “Common Core” and giving government a monopoly over education.

To liberals, higher taxes are always the answer. The basic problem is not actually about money, but the bureaucracy’s lack of accountability.

Since 1960, Nevada has nearly tripled its per pupil spending on an inflation adjusted basis, while achievement levels have remained flat and graduation rates have declined. Government bureaucrats have failed to put Nevada students first.

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For example, despite a $68 million deficit, the Clark County School District was recently exposed by the Las Vegas Review Journal for spending $117,000 on a new position – tasked with trying to stop students from leaving for charter schools.

In another shameful example of corruption in Las Vegas public schools, politically-connected top officials used intimidation tactics to prevent a teacher from being disciplined, even though the teacher had been reported for throwing a desk at one student and kicking another.

In this system, bureaucrats come first and not students.

In fact, nationwide about a third of education spending goes to “administration” and never reaches teachers or classrooms. This is why so many Nevada teachers must use their own money to buy classroom supplies. Not only is the system unfair to students, but also to teachers!

Implementation of the “Common Core” program, which was encouraged by the Obama Administration, is making matters worse. With an unaccountable bureaucracy already at the center of the problem, Common Core’s goal is to standardize education nationwide, further empowering bureaucrats at the expense of parents and students. 

Sandra Stotsky, a University of Arkansas professor, who served on the committee to validate Common Core standards stated, “The standards dumb American education down by about two grades worth.”  

Instead, since education is paid for with money from our own tax dollars, options like vouchers and charter schools give parents the power to decide how their money is spent. Competition in itself breeds innovation.

Price changes of consumer goods over time make a valuable illustration. Over the last twenty years, TV’s, toys and software have become dramatically cheaper while hospital services, college textbooks, and college tuition have increased sharply.

What is the difference between the former and the latter? The former are markets driven by free market competition while the latter are heavily subsidized or regulated by government.

Nevadans are fortunate to have one of the nation’s top-rated charter school programs, but there is still much room for improvement.

A report by the Nevada Policy Research Institute found Florida charter school programs have given parents of disabled children access to options that are both better for their children and save taxpayers money. Florida is notable for ranking below Nevada in per pupil spending but also boasting one of the nation’s highest rates of student achievement.

School choice programs work. One of the nation’s longest-running voucher programs is the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Students in the program tested 9-12 percent higher than their peers in reading, math, and science, and they graduated at an 18 percent higher rate.

Being a former small business owner and advocate, I have had to work hard and innovate to make my business grow and succeed. Likewise, competition in education provides more options and better results.

As a conservative, I know the answer is not to just throw money at a problem but to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. It’s time to put Nevada students and parents first and take the power back from the bureaucrats.

Eugene Hoover is a former small business owner and candidate for Lieutenant Governor

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