Previous Nevada Journal articles

19th Century orphan-care fight
still hobbles Nevada education

Part 3: How the 1882 Nevada Supreme Court came
to endorse state-based religious discrimination

In 1881, when State Controller James F. Hallock refused to honor an invoice from the Nevada Orphans Asylum for services rendered the State of Nevada, he cited the newly added Section 10, Article 11, of the Nevada Constitution, and noted that the Asylum was managed by the Sisters of Charity, a Catholic religious community.

Upon arrival of the issue before the Nevada Supreme Court, in the State v. Hallock case, the sisters’ attorneys first argued that the case involved a simple contract, which the justices should order the controller to carry out and pay.

On the other hand, if the word “sectarian” in Section 10 was to be an issue, they argued, it should only be understood to refer to, and thus exclude, non-Christians.

“Christianity is a part of the common law of the state of Nevada, as it is of the United States, in the qualified sense that its divine origin and truth are admitted,” they said.

Legally, it was far too weak a response. It did not deal with the word trap that American religious minorities had faced for half a century.

As U.S. Supreme Court justices have acknowledged frequently — see, for example, both Zelman v. Simmons-Harris and Mitchell v. Helms — equivocation upon the meaning of the word sectarian was central to power games successfully played by nativist Protestants in the public arena throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

“[I]t was an open secret that ‘sectarian’ was code for ‘Catholic,’” noted Justice Thomas for the court plurality in Mitchell v. Helms.

Such flimflam over “sectarianism” had serious political utility — first proven before the Civil War, in the successful bid of Horace Mann and his liberal Protestant allies to assert control over Massachusetts community schools.

Continue reading »

Education

Prominent Westside pastor prepares
to announce support for Nevada's ESAs

LAS VEGAS — At a school choice open-house scheduled for Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, Pastor Ron Thomas of the Reconciliation Apostolic Ministries will proudly announce his support for Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about the program,” Pastor Thomas told the Nevada Policy Research Institute. “And the truth is, there is a lot of opportunity for minority communities with ESAs.”

Thomas has been a pastor for the past 20 years, and is also an officer with the Las Vegas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Although the NAACP has not supported ESAs, Thomas said he personally felt it was important to speak out in support of the reform.

Sen. Scott Hammond, the author of SB302, will be featured, as will be a number of parents who have already enrolled in ESAs. According to Thomas, the evening open-house was conceived as a way to bring information about ESAs directly to parents, without any buffers.

Continue reading »

Husband and wife team hope to fix
education for Vegas at-risk youth

They saw Nevada Education Savings Accounts offering a big potential for the community

The Andersons — DaJuane and Tamara — have a dream.

Pursuing it, they both achieved doctorates in education.

And to it they’ve dedicated their teaching careers.

The dream is to significantly improve the lives of at-risk youth — here in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

And the means to accomplish something so important exists, they believe, within the unique private school they launched: The Anderson Academy of Mathematics and Science.

For nearly a decade the Andersons have been struggling to build a school dedicated to low-income students. Of course, it has been an uphill battle.

And now, with the injunction granted by District Judge James Wilson against Nevada’s innovative Education Savings Accounts, that hill has gotten significantly steeper.

“We feel like we’re back to where we were in the beginning,” Dr. DaJuane Anderson recently told the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

Continue reading »

The creed of the ‘common school’

It was never what today’s secular ideologues assume

Nevada’s state constitution speaks in several places of something called “the common schools.”

While that term is regularly read today to mean secular tax-supported government schools, that wasn’t what the term meant in 1864 when Nevada’s constitution was being written.

So what did it mean?

The term “the common school” dates primarily from before the Civil War, when it became widely used by Horace Mann and others who were eager to re-engineer the education that American young people were receiving from their local community schools.

The term, therefore, refers not only to community schools, but also to a Mann-led program of social engineering through state-controlled education. That particular program’s unique history has been massively documented by Boston University Professor Charles L. Glenn, in his watershed book, The Myth of the Common School:

Continue reading »

Analysis, Education

Language in Nevada state constitution reveals
19th century anti-Catholic consensus, agenda

U.S. Supreme Court justices, liberal and conservative, acknowledge the history

You might not expect it in this day and age, but Nevada’s Constitution still bears telling traces of a discriminatory 19th century doctrine the U.S. Supreme Court has characterized as “born of bigotry.”

Those traces can be found in the multiple appearances in the document of the word “sectarian.”

Contrary to the belief of many today, the term in the 19th century was not understood to simply mean “religious” — as in: “there shall be no religious instruction in the public schools.”

Instead, the actual understanding of the term in the decades when Nevada’s constitutional provisions were first written or later added was — as has been widely documented — “non-protestant,” or, most likely, “Catholic.”

Both wings of the U.S. Supreme Court, liberal and conservative, have repeatedly acknowledged this.

Continue reading »

Education

ACLU lawsuit declines to mention
adverse U.S. Supreme Court rulings

High court has repeatedly supported parental school choice

Because some families may choose religiously affiliated schools, says the American Civil Liberties Union, no Nevada families should be allowed to benefit from the state’s new Education Savings Accounts program.

Publicly, the ACLU attributes its anti-ESA hostility to a desire to safeguard what it asserts is a constitutional “wall separating church and state.”

In reality, however, that language appears nowhere in the U.S. or Nevada constitutions.

Rather, the view of the First Amendment that the organization is advancing is a cramped and discriminatory account that has been repeatedly rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Conspicuously, the ACLU’s Nevada lawsuit ignores decades of the Court’s precedential rulings regarding the First Amendment’s Establishment of Religion clause.

Instead, the lawsuit pins the organization’s hope on language in Nevada’s Constitution barring the use of “public” funds for “sectarian purposes.”  

For its part, the U.S. Supreme Court set forth a detailed account of its view in its 2002 Zelman decision:

This Court’s jurisprudence makes clear that a government aid program is not readily subject to challenge under the Establishment Clause if it is neutral with respect to religion and provides assistance directly to a broad class of citizens who, in turn, direct government aid to religious schools wholly as a result of their own genuine and independent private choice

Because some families may choose religiously affiliated schools, says the American Civil Liberties Union, no Nevada families should be allowed to benefit from the state’s new Education Savings Accounts program.

Publicly, the ACLU attributes its anti-ESA hostility to a desire to safeguard what it asserts is a constitutional “wall separating church and state.”

In reality, however, that language appears nowhere in the U.S. or Nevada constitutions.

Rather, the view of the First Amendment that the organization is advancing is a cramped and discriminatory account that has been repeatedly rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Conspicuously, the ACLU’s Nevada lawsuit ignores decades of the Court’s precedential rulings regarding the First Amendment’s Establishment of Religion clause.

Instead, the lawsuit pins the organization’s hope on language in Nevada’s Constitution barring the use of “public” funds for “sectarian purposes.”  

For its part, the U.S. Supreme Court set forth a detailed account of its view in its 2002 Zelman decision:

This Court’s jurisprudence makes clear that a government aid program is not readily subject to challenge under the Establishment Clause if it is neutral with respect to religion and provides assistance directly to a broad class of citizens who, in turn, direct government aid to religious schools wholly as a result of their own genuine and independent private choice

Continue reading »

Education

100-day rule for ESAs stresses families out

The dilemma they face: Money and disruption
or quality education and burdensome costs?

Say you’re a family scrimping and sacrificing, in a still-tight Nevada economy, so your kids can escape some of the worst public schools in the country.

If you suddenly learn that, for each child you have, some $5,000 in state help may be available, you’re going to pay full attention.

Thus, thousands of Nevada private-school parents already are personally investigating and experiencing the Education Savings Account law that Nevada legislators and Gov. Brian Sandoval approved this spring.

But what those parents are finding is that — despite the good intentions behind the legislation — what the law actually offers is something that at least some of them might describe as a deal with the devil.

It offers them a hefty financial incentive if they will abandon, at least for 100 days — the better part of a school year — their private school, and place their children back in the ever-more crowded government-run schools, frequently violent and gang-dominated, and significantly inferior in classroom quality.

Continue reading »

Education

Brian Sandoval, Man of the Hour?

Special session could address ESA legislation’s first-draft problems

Who’s the one man in Nevada with the authority to immediately resolve the problems besetting parents who want to set up Education Savings Accounts?

It’s Gov. Brian Sandoval, who signed the legislation in June.

That’s what Victor Joecks, executive vice president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute told scores of frustrated parents Friday at a regulatory hearing conducted by the Nevada Treasurer’s Office.

Continue reading »

Avid for Stimulus money, pols short-circuited
oversight, got green-energy flops in return

As Obama, Reid tout clean energy at Vegas summit, investigation
shows their involvement in failure of Nevada revolving loan program

When Sen. Harry Reid and President Barack Obama return to Las Vegas Monday for Reid’s 8th Annual National Clean Energy Summit, there’ll be a ghost with them on the dais.

Call it the “Ghost of Stimulus-Act Past.” Or perhaps “The Spirit of Green-Energy Subsidy Failures Past.”

No matter what it’s called, the thing is out of the grave and again stalking the land.

It’s back because every million-dollar-plus renewable-energy loan that Nevada gave to green-energy companies, using its Stimulus Act dollars, subsequently failed and is now the target of “claw back” legal actions by the state.

That’s what an “informational” report deep inside a 54-page “exhibit” given the 2015 Nevada Legislature’s Senate Finance Committee — and turned over to Nevada Journal by a concerned lawmaker — says.

Of $13.8 million loaned out by the state, the cumulative amount not remitted, according to legislative staff, exceeded $12.2 million, or something over 88 percent:

When Sen. Harry Reid and President Barack Obama return to Las Vegas Monday for Reid’s 8th Annual National Clean Energy Summit, there’ll be a ghost with them on the dais.

Call it the “Ghost of Stimulus-Act Past.” Or perhaps “The Spirit of Green-Energy Subsidy Failures Past.”

No matter what it’s called, the thing is out of the grave and again stalking the land.

It’s back because every million-dollar-plus renewable-energy loan that Nevada gave to green-energy companies, using its Stimulus Act dollars, subsequently failed and is now the target of “claw back” legal actions by the state.

That’s what an “informational” report deep inside a 54-page “exhibit” given the 2015 Nevada Legislature’s Senate Finance Committee — and turned over to Nevada Journal by a concerned lawmaker — says.

Of $13.8 million loaned out by the state, the cumulative amount not remitted, according to legislative staff, exceeded $12.2 million, or something over 88 percent:

Continue reading »

Labor

The work-comp logjam is leaking

Support grows for voluntary alternative to work comp, said better for everyone

It’s common knowledge that, for over a century, state-mandated workers’ comp systems have held sway as the “exclusive legal remedy” available to victims of workplace accidents.

Frequently overlooked, however, is the extent to which the work-comp regime has also, by its compulsory nature, excluded alternative and innovative solutions to that very same problem: finding the best solution to the chronic problem of workplace injuries.

Workers’ comp thus operates as a particular case of the general rule that government, by making a particular solution mandatory, tends to freeze innovation in the area of that mandate.

Nevertheless, there is one state in the United States that never entirely abandoned the constitutional principles that prevailed before the wide embrace of Otto von Bismarck’s compulsory industrial-insurance model.

Notably, the state of Texas still proclaims its adherance “to the principle that employers should be allowed to choose whether to offer workers' compensation benefits to their employees.”

Continue reading »