‘Education’ articles

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Nevada parents demonstrate
massive desire for school choice

Attendance at Treasurer's regulatory workshop overflows even the ‘overflow’ room

Parents at Friday's Nevada ESAs regulatory workshop watch fellow participants at both Las Vegas and Carson City via statewide video connections.

Las Vegas parents swamped state treasurer hearing rooms at the Sawyer government center Friday, pleading that regulations soon to be written allow their children quickly into the state’s historic new Educational Savings Account program.

With the hearing room’s approximately 200-plus chairs soon full and people standing two-deep along one side and across the back of the room, Treasurer staff opened a smaller, overflow room in the back.

It, too, was soon overflowing.

What were the major questions on most attendees’ minds?

Clearly — given the repeated queries, pleas and statements of parents, school officials and others — those questions concerned a requirement in SB302, the enabling legislation introduced and sponsored by State senator Scott Hammond.

That bill requires that children, to qualify, must have “been enrolled in a public school in this State during the period immediately preceding the establishment of [their] education savings account[s] … for not less than 100 school days without interruption…”

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DeMint praises Nevada’s ESA law

Says state-based school-choice programs create momentum for national reform

Nevada parents this year received one of the most marvelous gifts lawmakers can provide: the ability for parents to customize the education of their own children.

That was the assessment yesterday by the president of the Heritage Foundation, former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, of last month’s passage into state law of Education Savings Accounts.

“This is what we’ve needed for years,” said DeMint, keynoting a Las Vegas education-reform event. “I know from raising four children — in the same environment, with the same parents — that all four were different.”

“They all had different learning styles,” he continued, “different interests, different aptitudes. And it wasn’t fair to force them all into the same mold.

“This idea of giving everyone the same thing at the same time in the same place, and saying that’s equality — it’s not. It’s the worst form of tyranny, when you recognize that every child is different.

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Expert critics of Common Core to face
NDE officials in unique public events

Forums designed to give lawmakers, parents, teachers
the chance to learn and ask questions

Two nationally recognized educators — both critics of the controversial Common Core State Standards — are scheduled to participate next week with representatives of the Nevada Department of Education in two public examinations of the pros and cons of Common Core.

The visiting experts are Dr. James Milgram, former member of the NASA Advisory Council and professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University, and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas’ Department of Education Reform. Stotsky is renowned for developing some of the country’s strongest sets of academic standards for K-12 students while serving as Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education.

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Federal education officials: Nevada can’t charge dad to look at children’s records

Dozens of mistakes identified in now-viewable records

LAS VEGAS — Remember the Nevada dad who was told it would cost him over $10,000 to see the records the State of Nevada has on his children, a story first reported by Nevada Journal?

He’s been allowed to view those records — without being charged — following intervention by the federal Department of Education. Student information warehoused in the Nevada State Longitudinal Data System, said federal officials, constitutes education records under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and therefore must be open to inspection by parents.

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CCSD spent over $13,000 discussing controversial sex-ed program

Plan was to ‘impact’ individuals throughout
community, school district; allegedly skirt parents

LAS VEGAS — The Clark County School District spent over $13,000 this year to discuss the child sex-education advocacy program that made headlines when it was reported that the district was considering teaching masturbation to Kindergartners.

The amount CCSD spent on the program led by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) comes from documents released by CCSD in response to public-record requests.

Over $9,750 went to pay SIECUS to provide “professional facilitation” in multiple CCSD focus groups, according to two purchase orders. Printed materials for the events cost another $3,328.

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