Read it and weep

Patrick Gibbons

Jim Rogers' column in the Las Vegas Sun criticizes Nevada for not taxing parents enough to adequately fund education.  In his column, he equates Nevada's low per-pupil funding to child abuse and neglect. Mr. Rogers seems literally to believe that "under-funding" education is equivalent to leaving children naked and starving.

Rogers is correct about Nevada's educational problem and right to assume that something must be done to fix it. But more funding for public education may not be the best course of action.

Looking at the U.S. Census Bureau data on overall K-12 spending and dividing that number by the student population, we see that Nevada spent $8,926 per student in 2006 (that is 21.5 percent higher than what Nevada's newspapers and educrats report).

By the time a child can take the NAEP 4th grade reading exam, Nevada has spent more than $44,000 on that child's education.  Yet even after spending this small fortune, 43 percent of Nevada's fourth graders are functionally illiterate, according to the National Assessment in Education Progress reading test.

So if anyone is guilty of child neglect, it would be the educational bureaucrats, school administrators and union officials who have failed to ensure that $44,000 could teach more than 57 percent of kids to read by the fourth grade. Interestingly enough, these same individuals also stand in the way of progressive reforms that could improve education without increasing spending.