Friday, January 16, 2009

Where Have All the Students Gone?

Don’t Get No Respect

We’re Number One: From the bottom, that is. It has been said that the state of Nevada is 49th out of the 50 states in funding for education. Many reasons have been given for this – most casino jobs do not require an education. Dealer? Count to 21. Food server? Know when your order needs to be picked up. Casino host? Know how to glad hand. It helps if you are a sports celebrity so the patrons can go home and say, “Guess who I met in Vegas?” Cab drivers need to know the longest route between two hotels. Change persons need to know who they gave the “lucky quarters” to so they get a good tip. Cocktail waitresses need to know how to balance drinks on a tray while wiggling. Visitors and convention goers are more concerned after their meetings with good food and action rather than determining the validity of the Pythagorean theorem. They don’t care whether or not pie are square, they only care how it tastes.

A one Horse Town: Perhaps not. We have the best entertainment in the world, the most convention space, and the finest dining establishments. We have the world’s largest hotels and the most hotel rooms. Bottom line of the bottom line is that Nevada is a one-industry state and Las Vegas is a one-industry town. But what more can one expect of a town located in the middle of a desert? A town that has no logical reason to exist. A town that has over three hundred days per year of sunshine? Well, how about bringing in some clean industry like, perhaps computer of electronics? Sorry, the population base is not well enough educated for high tech industries to adequately man the factories. Ok then, what about solar energy? With all that sun, why not take advantage? Our local power company is loathe to provide the kinds of incentives to make such research viable. Also, there are not enough scientists in the state to develop the kind of technology needed. We’d better expand our higher education system and infuse our pre-college system with funding to make Nevada the premier source of education. With a small population that should not be too difficult.

Pardon me, Gov: Surely the governor, a highly educated man and former military and commercial pilot would understand this problem and help out education. In fact, his budget is due out today. Let’s see what he has done to encourage education in our state. We’re in a financial bind. Our biggest industry is gaming – whose entities pay a fraction of their compatriots in New Jersey and other states. Perhaps we could bump gaming taxes up a bit to help education. Maybe the mining industry. Since precious metal prices have spiked, maybe we can tap them for a dollar or two for education. Of course there will have to be cuts, but with education spending in Nevada at the bottom of the barrel among the states, maybe they can be spared some of the cuts.

The former pilot crashes education: Governor Jim Gibbons just put forth his proposed budget which included $ 633 million in cuts to the state’s general fund. How did the nation’s poor cousin of education fare? Eighty-six percent, $ 547 million of the $ 633 million in cuts came from an education system that ranks close to dead last in funding already. The guv is attempting to gut a system that wallows near the bottom. Teachers, not known for being among the higher paid employees are scheduled for a 6% pay cut. These are the folks who take a portion of their own salary to buy supplies for their students. These are the people in whose pockets Governor Jim Bob is reaching. Oh, he agreed to cut his own salary from $ 150,000 not including perks. I’m sure any third grade teacher making $ 150,000, a car allowance, a free mansion, and other perks would also agree to a 6% salary cut. How did his cronies in the casino and mining industries and other businesses fare? Read his lips, no new taxes.

No question about it: The Guv is not doing anything that he did not promise – leaving his cronies untouched while the children of our state suffer through cutbacks. Yes, Martha, we deserve exactly the representation we elected.

A little blogging music Maestro: “You Left Me Just When I needed You Most,” by Randy VanWarmer.

Dr forgot

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