Thursday, April 14, 2011

Power Away from the People?

At the last minute, AB 548 has come out of hiding. OK, so what's the big deal? And what is this exactly?

If passed, AB 548 would take away our right to vote for members of the Nevada State Board of Education that are supposed to supervise and guide K-12 public education statewide. This would essentially take power away from the people and concentrate it in the hands of a few. In this bill, state board members are instead appointed by The Governor.

Hear that? And get it? This is really nothing more than a thinly veiled power grab by Brian Sandoval and his "Tea Party, Inc." friends out to deform public education.

Don't believe me yet? Chris Miller from NSDC explains further.

Some other points to note:

1. AB548 would be taking away the right of the citizen voter for elected representation by REGION.
2. Most appointed positions are given to white males and are not reflective of demographics. Current board is comprised of 5 women and 4 men. Ethnically, there are 2 African Americans, 3 Hispanics and 5 Caucasian members.
3. AB548 would give the Governor a 'rubber stamp' Education Board to make curricula. textbook and policy decisions.

The last is important because last year in Texas, the conservative Texas State Board of Education approved new textbooks. Among the changes form the old books: Students would be required to learn about the “unintended consequences” of Title IX, affirmative action, and the Great Society, and would need to study conservative icons like Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation, and the Moral Majority. The slave trade would be renamed the “Atlantic triangular trade,” American “imperialism” changed to “expansionism,” and all references to “capitalism” have been replaced with “free enterprise.” The role of Thomas Jefferson – who argued for the separation of church and state – is minimized in several places, and the standards would emphasize the degree to which the Founding Fathers were driven by Christian principles.

This is where things get really freaky. If the religious righties cause enough of a stink to scare Sandoval into throwing them some bones in appointing their own to the state board, we may end up with a Texas/Kansas like disaster of board members injecting radical right politics into public education. Do we want our kids subjected to religious dogma being preached in "science class"? Do we want them "learning" that "homosexuality is a crime against God"? Do we want them to "know" that "feminism is of Satan" and that "slavery is OK because it's in The Bible"?

Don't laugh it off. Not that long ago, folks thought it was impossible for extremists to take over the Texas and Kansas Boards of Education. But now not only has that happened, but sound education is under attack in even more states. It can clearly happen here, so it's imperative for us to protect our schools from partisan politicking in Carson City.

Even if that nightmare scenario doesn't occur, it would be bad enough to replace elected officials accountable to "We the People" with unelected cronies "friends of The Governor". While folks like Elaine Wynn and Punam Mathur may be genuinely concerned about our schools, the fact of the matter is that they were never elected by us, they're not accountable to us, and it's ridiculous for Sandoval to try to make us forfeit our power to let our voices be heard on public education, just so he can feel more "in charge" and place his "friends" on the state board.

Please take a look at Chris' list of legislators to contact and let them know AB 548 does nothing to help public education, and that we don't want them to play power politics with our schools.

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