Too many facts, sorry we can’t publish that

Patrick Gibbons

The following was a letter to the Las Vegas Sun editor that, unsurprisingly, did not get published. There must not have been enough room to print it…

Mr. Greenspun's Sept. 14 opinion column titled "Keep on fighting the good fight for education, Chancellor Rogers" assumes that government spending and education are the engines of economic growth (they are not) and assumes that Nevada needs to raise taxes to increase funds for education.

Research shows that, 1) there is no relationship between education spending and student achievement, and 2) increased spending on higher ed correlates with slower economic growth. Nevada is no exception.

Nevada has tripled its K-12 per-pupil spending since 1960 and unsurprisingly, we've seen no improvement. Today, Nevada spends more than $40,000 on a child's education before the child reaches the fifth grade, yet 43 percent of our fourth-grade students are functionally illiterate based on their scores on the NAEP reading test.  

Furthermore, UNLV consumes more than $20,000 in wealth per student, yet only 39 percent of students graduate after six years of college. Businesses in Nevada report that graduates are unprepared for the real world, while many students are saddled with unnecessary college debt as they find jobs that never required college degrees.

Economies do not grow when wealth is invested in ways that produce no real gains. Increasing spending on higher education and K-12 education will not lead to improvements in student achievement, graduation rates or productivity.

Instead it will literally waste a fortune while retarding economic growth.

Patrick R. Gibbons is a researcher with the Nevada Policy Research Institute.