His threat to hold a special session of the Nevada Legislature to dismantle the statewide structure and organization of learning is a ploy and last-minute effort to rally his ultra-conservative right-wing base to support his futile attempt for re-election as governor. Although there are some changes needed in education, they are not the ones Gibbons proposed.
Gibbons wants the membership of the Nevada State Board of Education to be appointed, rather than elected by the voters. The more appointments politicians have at their disposal, the more carrots, bribes or campaign promises they have at their disposal and, consequently, the more support they receive for their campaigns.
Political appointments also provides a conduit for hiring incompetent friends and fellow party members. Example: Gibbons’ appointment of fellow Republican Bruce Breslow to the position of executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects. Talk about a dead horse and dead project.
Prior to that, Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn appointed Breslow as director of a state agency regulating tow trucks, buses and taxicabs for a “small” salary of $80,000 annually. When Republican State Sen. Bill Raggio was asked about the salary Breslow received for playing golf every day and doing relatively no work, he said, “It’s hard to find good help for that kind of salary.” Ah, spoken like a true Republican.
Gibbons is recommending that three of the proposed five-member board will be appointed by the governor. The majority leader and Assembly speaker would each have one selection. In true political logic, this would give the political party residing in the governor’s mansion full control of statewide policy for education; which is something Gibbons always wanted.
The State Board of Education is responsible for the certification of teachers and compiles statewide testing scores. It holds every school district in the state responsible for compliance with federal laws and works with the 17 state school districts in the state to implement new laws passed by the legislature.
The board is in charge of research and instruction evaluation. Nationally, it represents the state in its effort to receive a fair share of federal funding for education.
Gibbons should consider establishing a cap in the budget for school administration expenses, thereby creating more available revenue for actual teaching.It seems administrators are paid more than their worth based on their own personal education rather than the actual work they’re supposedly qualified to do. Since the local school district is overweight in career administrators hiding behind the walls of redundant meetings, trying to create a need for their Ph.D. and master’s degrees, this would be a change for the better.
Another thing Gibbons might consider is requiring all administrators and members of any board of education to have at least five years of teaching experience in the classroom . Classroom experience in teaching is worth more than any master’s or Ph.D. Obviously, Gibbons is politically posturing on changes in education and no changes will be made anyway.
Among other suggestions made by Gibbons is the elimination of collective bargaining agreements earned by teachers and other state employees.
The Nevada State Legislature passed the Local Government Employee-Management Relations Act (the Dodge Act) in 1969. The teachers organized, wanting to have more say in curricula, textbooks, working hours and conditions and class size. It should be noted their association is not a union. By common law, government employees cannot strike. But as an association, they have a process for grievance and arbitration.
So why does Gibbons want to eliminate their bargaining rights? Because it has long been a whipping post for Republicans and their anti-union, anti-public education mentality. The fact is even with collective bargaining, Nevada’s teachers rank 25thin average salary and their starting salary ranks 38th in the nation. Conclusion: The teacher’s associations probably didn’t cost the taxpayer anymore by having a collective bargaining agreement with the state. As a matter of fact, they might have saved the taxpayers money. But don’t tell Gibbons that.
Gibbons doesn’t want to pay teachers a decent salary, but he doesn’t mind having his friends spend large sums of money on political parties. Referring to criticism of an inaugural bash for the “big” Republican paid for by large corporations, he was quoted as saying, “Anybody who is against corporate-funded inaugural bashes obviously must be a communist.”
I wonder what we should call a governor who didn’t have the male parts to increase taxes from any source at a time when his state was headed for economic disaster. Even businessmen were trying to persuade him to increase taxes for roads, infrastructure and public service agencies, but Gibbons was stubborn and refused to budge, although he does have the male parts to be accused of adultery.
The only one who put the governor in his place is his wife, Dawn. She divorced him, received almost all she wanted in the settlement and exposed him for what he really is: a failure as a husband, a failed governor and a disgraced politician. Maybe she should have been governor.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.