Erica Olsen

Smoke Screen: "Benefits" from New Clean Air Regulations

June 16, 1997

Government-imposed environmental regulations must constantly weigh the cost to the nation—economic effect—against the benefits to the environment—environmental effect. The Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory mandates tend to tip the scale in favor of the environmental effect at a high cost to the taxpayers, often with unproven environmental benefits. Superfund Cleanup sites are one example. The proposed Clean Air Act mandates could be another. The EPA’s new air quality standards have caused an uproar since they were proposed last November. President Clinton must decide on July 17 whether or not he will sign the regulations into law. He must weigh the economic effect against the environmental and, in this case, health benefits some say will be achieved. Following is a look at what recent studies show about the cost of these regulations and the expected effects.

Unions: Another Attempt to Monopolize the Public Sector

April 30, 1997

In what is becoming a rite of spring, a compulsory public sector bargaining bill is once again on the table of the Assembly Government Affairs Committee this session. Versions of Assembly Bill 310 have been proposed for the past six years, with varying degrees of success. A.B. 310 would authorize collective bargaining for "persons employed by the State of Nevada, its boards, commissions, agencies and departments, the public employees’ retirement system, the University and Community College System of Nevada and any other employer that receives money from the state." (A.B. 310) Part-time employees and several positions in the state printing and micrographics division of the department of administration are excluded. The bill also creates a labor relations board specifically designed to deal with state employment disputes.

What is a Charter School?

April 15, 1997

Discussions of education reform often include the term "charter schools," but misconceptions and misunderstandings often accompany this term. Simply put, a charter school is a publicly-funded entity operating free of many of the regulations under which traditional public schools operate. Specifically, they are legally and fiscally autonomous educational entities operating within the public school system under charters or contracts. The charters are negotiated between organizers and sponsors. The organizers may be teachers, parents, or others from the public or private sectors. The sponsors may be local school boards, state school boards, or other public authorities such as universities. The concept is aimed at producing increased responsiveness to the demands of parents, students and teachers, and greater opportunities for innovation in school management and education. Twenty-six states as well as Washington D.C. have passed varying types of charter school legislation. Nevada Senate Bill 220 reintroduces potential charter school legislation for our state. The following is a list of the main components of an ideal charter school model compared to S.B. 220 as well as case studies from California and Arizona.

School-to-Work: The Right Model to Use

March 25, 1997

In an era of ever-changing educational fads and ideologies, school-to-work programs have entered the arena. This widely-debated program is part of Goals 2000, a federal education reform plan, and places more emphasis on vocational training in schools than currently in our curriculum. Pressure is on from the federal government to implement the program by issuing grants for states to develop and integrate vocationally-based coursework. Assembly Bill 191, called the School-to-Careers bill, is Nevada’s attempt to put this program into law. The idea of graduating students with "real-world" knowledge is taken from the German education system – world-renowned for its excellence. But some key differences exist between the German Model and School-to-Careers – differences that might destroy a potentially successful program. Here with a look at how the German education system is structured.

A Needed Addition to Campaign Finance Reform

March 11, 1997

Campaign finance reform has been needed in Nevada for a long time. Instead of waiting to see if legislators would kill reform measures again this session, voters mandated, for the second time, that current campaign finance laws be changed by passing ballot question Number 10. This amends the Nevada Constitution and requires legislators to change current statutes. The reporting threshold will be lowered. (How low remains to be seen). Party caucuses and political action committees (PACs) will be limited in the amounts they can contribute and also will have to disclose who donated money and how much. Reporting dates will be moved closer to election day and contributions made in the name of another person will be made illegal. Various bills have been introduced, named and renamed, in hopes of putting an end to this longstanding debate. The proposed reform is fairly comprehensive, covering the areas where abuses run rampant. However, some loopholes will still exist, especially in labor union political activity. Some unions spend over 90 percent of total dues on political activities and union members should have the right to know which candidates they are supporting.

An Alternative Solution to Financing Computers in Nevada’s Classrooms

February 26, 1997

Keeping pace with ever changing technology can be a monetary strain on even the most well run business, and for government it can be an insurmountable burden. Such is the case with the Nevada education system. Controversy is running rampant between the governor’s office and legislative committee hearing rooms about how and why taxpayers should fund computers in the classroom. One side says that without computers, our children will be left in the 20th Century. The other side agrees, but wants to know why $233 million should be spent on computers when other programs are in dire need of overhauls – like standard assessment and school district accountability. But the question is raised, "If other states have found the money to have first rate education systems and several computers in every class, why can’t Nevada do the same?" Here’s a look at Nevada’s national ranking and how our next door neighbor is dealing with this problem.

Class size reduction is not the answer to Nevada’s failing education system

February 3, 1997

Education reform means different things to different people. To Governor Bob Miller, education reform means class size reduction of grades K-3 as evidenced in his recent State of the State address. But the policy has drawn fire from free market reformers since there are no studies which agree with the Governor’s claims of drastically improved achievement. Legislators during the 1995 session expressed their own skepticism with their votes and refused to approve class size reduction for third grades throughout the state. Yet Bob Miller continues to insist that if we are serious about improved education this policy must be implemented. Will the Governor succeed? Not likely … and here’s why.

Total Records: 12

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