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Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Way to Fix Education

The start of yet another school year is right around the corner and once again we’re reminded that a large number of Nevada’s government-run public schools aren’t cutting the mustard. Instead, many of them are cutting the cheese.

Clark County School Board President Terri Janison said in an interview a couple weeks ago, “Our goal is to meet each individual child’s needs.” Fortunately there was no “Mission Accomplished” banner hanging behind her because the latest No Child Left Behind report shows that almost half of her 361 government-run schools failed to make the grade in the 2008-09 school year.

Dr. Lauren Kohut-Rost, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, naturally blamed budget cuts for this colossal failure – even though, according to the Nevada Policy Research Institute, education funding now exceeds $10,000 per pupil.

Think about that for a minute. Let’s assume a class size of 25 students. At $10,000 per pupil per year, that means taxpayers are coughing up a quarter-million per year per classroom. And yet almost half of these government-run schools are still failures? Mind-blowing.

On the other hand, I’m reminded of former University Chancellor Jim Rogers’ outrageous and insulting state-of-education address earlier this year in which he blamed parents for the miserable state of so many of our public schools.

“Your only relationship with the education system,” Rogers lectured parents in his televised address, “is to ship your unprepared kids to school, not with the expectation of success, but with the demand that an education system, inadequately funded, develop and/or repair children that you as a parent did not prepare for school or support while your children attended school.”

Rogers added that parents have “created this disaster of a public education system” and demanded that they “take part in your child’s education.”

Don’t you just want to slap him? Thank goodness this arrogant blowhard is no longer running our university system and has moved to Montana.

Now for the good news. I have the solution to both the faux problems of funding and parental involvement: Home-schooling.

Let’s face it, home-schooling is the ultimate in parental involvement. But not every family has the time to exercise this option since both parents often have to work just to earn enough money to pay the taxes to fund the government’s failing public schools.

So what a growing number of families are doing is creating “co-ops” (the law doesn’t allow these to be called “schools” or “academies”) where a group of parents meet in church basements and such and pool what little money they have left after taxes to hire “tutors” (the law prohibits calling these folks “teachers,” even though many are former and/or retired teachers) for their children, as well as pitching in and sharing some of the teaching and administrative duties.

Such cooperative arrangements are arguably illegal in Nevada. But rather than prohibiting and inhibiting these home-school co-ops, the government not only should encourage them, but give these highly involved parents a tax rebate in the amount of, say, half what the government is currently spending per pupil in the failing public schools.

It’s high time we stop blaming parents and instead give them the freedom and means to provide their children with the quality education they deserve – the teachers union and public school bureaucrats be damned. So let it be written; so let it be done.