Why Big New Taxes Won’t Fix Nevada Public Schools

Steven Miller

Public-education insiders know it’s true, but they almost never admit it to the taxpaying public: Money isn’t the real problem with K-12 public education.

On this subject, Albert Shanker, the longtime president of the national American Federation of Teachers, frequently — despite his union job — felt compelled to tell the truth.

The basic problem with public K-12 education in Nevada — and in the U.S. generally — is the fact that public schools are government monopolies — kept in place, no matter how abysmal their performance, by politicians controlled by the powerful unions and administrative bureaucracies that feed on the system’s money and jobs. Shanker implicitly admitted this.

Although most Nevada parents would like to send their children to private or charter schools — according to a survey of Silver State parents done with the assistance of the Friedman Foundation — the state effectively deprives them of that choice: Their tax dollars are taken away from them and effectively given instead to the special interests who feed off the failing system.

AFT President Al Shanker — using his personal experiences as examples — illuminated the subject in candid remarks to education officials at a 1993 PEW foundation-sponsored conference. He acknowledged how difficult it would be for teacher unions to agree to the reforms necessary to allow market-style reforms into the public schools.

For an NPRI commentary based on Shanker’s remarks, go here.

Steven Miller is Senior Vice President at the Nevada Policy Reserach Institute, a non-partisan, free market think tank. 

Steven Miller

Senior Vice President, Nevada Journal Managing Editor

Steven Miller is Nevada Journal Managing Editor, Emeritus, and has been with the Institute since 1997.

Steven graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Philosophy from Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna). Before joining NPRI, Steven worked as a news reporter in California and Nevada, and a political cartoonist in Nevada, Hawaii and North Carolina. For 10 years he ran a successful commercial illustration studio in New York City, then for five years worked at First Boston Credit Suisse in New York as a technical analyst. After returning to Nevada in 1991, Steven worked as an investigative reporter before joining NPRI.