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Monday, February 23

EIEIO Education Bill in Nevada - School Choice

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This column is offered free of charge to newspapers and online blogs provided it's printed intact and full credit is given. For editing requests, please contact the author directly. Mr. Goedhart can be reached at (702) 682-3339 or egoedhart@asm.state.nv.us

School Choice: Less Money, Better Results

By Assemblyman Ed Goedhart

February 9, 2009

Words: 552

A little-noticed report in the February 7th edition of the Wall Street Journal makes an excellent case for my proposed Excellence in Education and Increased Opportunities (EIEIO) bill to provide Nevada families with the financial means to exercise school choice through new education tax rebates. Take a look:

“To understand the problem with the stimulus bill, it helps to focus on specific parts. Take the $142 billion for schools, which is nearly double the total outlays of the Department of Education in 2007. Now consider that much of this cash would go to public-school systems that don't even need the money for its earmarked purposes. The Milwaukee Public School system, for example, would receive $88.6 million over two years for new construction projects under the House version of the stimulus -- even though the district currently has 15 vacant school buildings and declining enrollment.”

Now, the interesting part of this isn’t so much the fact that the president’s spending bill is larded up with pork and is earmarked to build schools Milwaukee doesn’t even need. The really interesting part of this report is the reason the Milwaukee school system “currently has 15 vacant buildings and declining enrollment.” As the WSJ explains…

“The city is home to the country's oldest and largest school voucher program, which provides public funds for children to attend private schools. Families who participate in the means-tested voucher program receive $6,700 per pupil, while the city spends more than $13,000 per student. In addition to saving the taxpayers money, voucher students graduate at higher rates and outscore their counterparts on reading and math exams, which is one reason waiting lists for the program are common.”

Building new brick-and-mortar schools is extremely expensive these days, especially when construction contractors are forced to use union-only labor and pay inflated union wages. So the EIEIO universal school choice program - which would immediately alleviate Nevada’s need to build so many new schools during this current recession, as well as immediately reduce class sizes in existing schools - should be quickly approved and enacted by the Nevada Legislature.

Unlike the Milwaukee program, however, EIEIO wouldn’t limit school choice to only low-income families. As long as the government makes education compulsory, then school choice options and funding should be available to all of Nevada’s families, regardless of income.

Of course, the teachers union will dispute whether or not students attending private and parochial schools are out-scoring their government-school counterparts, but those arguments are irrelevant. It’s not whether or not one group is performing better than the other; it’s whether parents or school bureaucrats get to make the decision on which school children attend.

This is as much an issue of parental rights as it is education.

EIEIO tax rebates would provide all of Nevada’s families with the means to exercise their right to select the school they believe is best for their children. They will also reduce the amount of money Nevada’s taxpayers need to spend on building new schools, reduce the amount of money Nevada taxpayers need to spend on education overall, reduce class sizes in existing public schools, and result in improved academic performance in all of Nevada’s schools by instilling a level of competition in what is now a virtual government monopoly over education.

Who could possibly be opposed to that?.

(Mr. Goedhart is the Nevada State Assemblyman from District 36 and can be contacted at goedhart4assembly@hotmail.com)

Distibuted by Chuck Muth & Associates