All mouth, no money

Two months ago, during his State of the State address, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons unveiled the “Education Gift Certificate” program.

Seems the governor had heard the cries — one could hardly miss them — of that loud minority who never tire of insisting that “Nevada is at the bottom in everything.” One recurrent theme of this braying herd is that the product of Nevada’s public schools is inferior because Nevada citizens are too “selfish” to fund the government schools “adequately.”

Now, the governor is no dummy. He knows perfectly well that Utah’s schools get better results than ours while spending less per pupil, and that most of America’s urban schools get far worse results while spending much more. He’s probably also aware that handing more money to a school district that spends nearly half its money outside the classroom would be unlikely to bring much improvement until such time as the current schools face more direct competition from true education choice.

So the governor created a simple way for the complainers to boost teacher salaries all by themselves.

“These are hard times for all of us,” Gov. Gibbons said back in February. “The Education Gift Certificate is for anyone who wants to be able to help teachers by contributing directly to their salaries. No administrative costs come from your contribution; funds will be put directly into teacher salaries. … I hope those who can afford to contribute will step forward and be a part of the solution by helping our hardworking teachers.”

Almost two months have passed. And the thousands of Nevadans who decry the “selfishness” of those who “don’t care about the next generation” have so far piled up donations totaling, um … $261.

“It hasn’t been a big seller so far,” admits state schools Superintendent Keith Rheault.

But Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said the certificate program provides a tax-deductible way for prominent people who have called for higher school funding to contribute. Why on earth haven’t they done so? Unless what they really mean is … no.

You don’t suppose that when some people demand more money be spent on the current education bureaucracy, thus further stalling real reform, what they really mean is that government should use force or the threat of force to extract more money not from them, but from “someone else” … do you?

Education Gift Certificates are available at any DMV office. They can also be downloaded from the home page of the state of Nevada Web site,, or the governor’s Web site, If anyone really means it.

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