Governor looks forward on education

To the editor:

The contrast between Steve Sebelius’ Wednesday column (“Education budget fight is a war over mere scraps”) and the Review-Journal’s editorial of the same day (“Gov. Sandoval and the state budget”) was educational.

Like any good apologist for our failed educational system, Mr. Sebelius continues the call for more money as the answer. “No matter how much lawmakers eventually put back into the schools budget, Nevada is unlikely to climb out of its funding basement. … Like all good investments, the more you put in, the more you earn.” The lesson, proved over and over in this state and others, that the money “invested” in public education in the past 30-plus years has not been a good investment, is apparently lost on him.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has looked at the evidence and encourages a new approach: Try to figure out what works and support those approaches with scarce taxpayer dollars. It is a rational approach to a vexing problem, and sadly rare in an elected official.

It might involve encouraging home schooling, which has an impressive record for turning out high-achieving students — students who are not just knowledgeable, but trained to think. It would certainly involve encouraging choice, best done by giving the power of choice back to parents, by far the most intimately interested parties, in the form of vouchers. It would involve expanding initiatives to evaluate teacher performance based on quantifiable measures of outcome. Those teachers doing the best job of educating their students would be rewarded, and their techniques would be studied and used to help lower-performing teachers do a better job.

It might also involve looking again at the information available about educational success, realizing that funding has never been shown to correlate well with outcomes, and working to involve the community in those factors that actually matter. Parental involvement, community pride in academic achievements and elevating fine arts programs in our schools all improve student outcomes.

Gov. Sandoval is looking in the right direction and asking the right questions to begin the process of fixing what is wrong with public education in Nevada and the rest of the country. Mr. Sebelius is only looking backward.

It’s time to stop heeding the fears spread by the entrenched public education monopoly and start finding, and doing, what is best for our children.

Greg Miller

Henderson

Blow it up

To the editor:

With so many iconic Las Vegas landmarks having been blown up to make room for bigger and newer projects, isn’t it time to blow up the ugliest building in Las Vegas?

That would be the World Market Center.

It stands as a testimony to ugliness, failure, poor planning and poor management. Let’s get rid of it and make room for that sports arena project.

Kevin Hodson

Las Vegas

Lame complaint

To the editor:

I read with some interest professor Walter Williams’ reflection on “academic rot” (commentary, April 26). It reminded me of previous tirades from professor William Epstein of UNLV on the quality of education provided.

Both professors complain about students parroting answers for exams that were aired to please a particular instructor. I believe they are barking up the wrong tree. It is a time-honored understanding that giving answers that agree with a particular instructor will improve one’s chances for a better grade. I experienced this in my doctoral studies in the early 2000s.

It appears their complaint is with the political views of particular instructors. I am confident that Mr. Williams’ students parrot back to him what he wishes to hear.

As an undergraduate student, I studied philosophy. The object of the exams was to demonstrate acquisition of the material and to demonstrate, through logical argument, the student’s assessment of the material. If Mr. Williams complained that students lack the skill of critical thinking and presenting it in a coherent manner, then he has a valid point. To complain about political views of instructors with which he disagrees is a waste of ink.

Our institutions of higher learning should focus on ensuring students understand course content and training them to present arguments in a logical and coherent manner. That is the purpose of higher education.

MARC GONZALEZ

LAS VEGAS

Master of bull

To the editor:

Donald Trump as the lead story (April 29 Review-Journal)? I am a 30-year subscriber. He is not the news. Newspapers are on the verge of irrelevancy, even though I love them. We collectively do not need any more from the master of bull.

Why not publish all the shocking things he alluded to that he was finding in Hawaii. That, I would be interested in because there was nothing to be found.

Focus on issues and news or relegate Mr. Trump to where he belongs — the tabloids.

Ken Person

Henderson

U.S. arrogance

To the editor:

Some time ago, I heard Vice President Joe Biden say, “We’re gonna take the training wheels off of Afghanistan, and eventually they will handle their own security.” Imagine, if you will, the 235-year-old, all-knowing, world guardian United States will show them how. Afghanistan, a country invaded by Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great, among others. Yet, they wear the training wheels.

Recently, I read an article where U.S. officials stated that Iraq, formerly Mesopotamia, had its internal security well in place, but that it still needed assistance with border security. Imagine again, if you will, the 235-year-old world tutor, the good ol’ United States, a country that is continuously assaulted at its borders by illegal aliens and drugs, will show the Iraqis how it’s done.

The point is, they don’t need our kind of help, and in many cases they don’t want it.

Bring our troops home. Protect our homes. Respond to our disasters. Help our people. Many within our own borders need help that just isn’t there because our National Guard has morphed into the International Guard.

What has happened to our country’s priorities?

PETER L. HASELHURST

LAS VEGAS

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