Answering Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto’s question

Victor Joecks

She asks, and NPRI answers.

But after hearing another witness call for spending cuts, not tax increases, an irritated Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto, D-Las Vegas, asked:

"What elementary schools do you want us to close? What middle schools, what high schools should we close because there is no money?"

Actually, there is lots of money for education. Aside from the waste NPRI has reported on here, here and here, inflation-adjusted, education spending per student has tripled in the last 50 years.

Educational acheivement? Not so much. Over 40 percent of fourth graders can't read at grade level. Less than 60 percent of students graduated in 2004.

But back to Assemblywoman Koivisto's question.

What elementary schools do you want us to close? What middle schools, what high schools should we close?

Close the schools that have failed to educate Nevada's children. Fire the teachers who harm Nevada's children by failing to educate them. Get rid of the administrators who keep too much money out of the classroom.  

You ask, Assemblywoman Koivisto, and we are happy to answer. You don't want to allow schools, teachers and administrators who are failing our children to continue to harm them, do you?

"But how," Assebmlywoman Koivisto might ask in response, "am I or is any politician supposed to know who the bad teachers are, which administrators harm the educational future of Nevada's children, which schools should be shut down and which schools should be expanded?"

Exactly. You, any lawmaker, or any education bureaucrat can never know those things. But parents can. That is why it makes no sense for politicians like Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto to control the educational funding in this state. Forty percent of our kids can't read, but she doesn't know which schools to shut down or what schools to expand.

If parents where given a scholarship of $8,500 (the state currently pays over $10,000 a year for each child's education) and allowed to use that money at any school in Nevada (or for virtual schools or homeschooling) then Koivisto's problem would be solved. All parents would decide where to send their children. If the school were doing a good job, it would be rewarded with students and the funding they provided. If a school were not doing a good job, parents could take their children elsewhere. Those schools could be closed.

NPRI has a detailed analysis of this plan here.