Wednesday, December 28, 2011

10 of 11: Education Matters?

Last week, we noted the channeling of growing angst over inequality into the still maturing Occupy/99% movement. This week, I want to remind you that #Occupy was foreshadowed right here in Nevada. Remember "Sandoville"?

Remember the largest protest in Carson City's history?

And remember what was discussed right here on this blog on the heels of that historic rally?

How many more times must I explain this? With inadequate schools, new companies won't move here. Businesses are now looking for a more educated workforce, and Nevada can't provide that with underfunded, overcrowded, underperforming, overburdened, and all around collapsing K-12 schools and colleges. Without good schools, we'll never have the foundation needed for a more stable economy and lasting jobs.

But do enough legislators understand this? Do they really want to continue being penny wise and pound foolish? Do they want to force Clark County School District to sue them for inadequate funding? Do they really want to "beggar thy neighbor" by forcing unfunded mandates onto local governments? Or are they finally ready to make a change and do the right thing?

Everything we "know" on the budget is wrong. The revenue is there. The mining industry can certainly afford to pay its fair share, and so can other large multinational corporations taking advantage of our consumer dollars while refusing to pay what we pay. Our system is broken, our state is failing, and we can no longer afford to ignore this crisis.

Yep. It's STILL the schools, stupid.

It seemed like despite all the growing body of evidence showing exactly how Nevada fails because we fail to properly invest in public education, some in Carson City continued to stick their heads in the sand and hope for something that won't ever (and really shouldn't ever) come back to Nevada. In March, I was asking why we would want to kill ourselves like this

As we've talked about before, many thousands of students from throughout the state have begged Brian Sandoval and The Legislature to let them continue learning. Under Sandoval's proposed budget, entire departments are set to be eliminated from UNLV and UNR, UNLV will likely go bankrupt, and entire colleges, like Western Nevada College in Carson City and Nevada State College in Henderson, may be permanently closed. Now what would that say about our state planning ahead for a better economic future?

As I've repeatedly exclaimed here before, the ONLY way for Nevada to survive is for us to diversify our economy and bring in companies looking for an educated workforce. But as long as we continue to defund our schools, Nevada will be nothing other than a third world society slowly unraveling as casino conglomerates look elsewhere to profit off gambling going global.

This year's budget really is a life or death decision for Nevada. Will we decide on economic and social murder-suicide by way of destroying what little public infrastructure we have? Or will we choose life? Will we decide to build on that very public infrastructure that the vast majority of the private sector has told us is critical for them to do business here?

Sadly, Brian Sandoval continued to drown out the crying and raging masses while the Legislature continued to suffer under partisan stalemate (thanks to the more extreme G-O-TEA caucus). On May 26, I asked how much longer "we the people" could be ignored.

For far too long, we have been told to "suck it up" and "celebrate the free market". Look where that has taken us. Even though we have the cheapest state government and one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation and an economy unraveling due to casinos investing more offshore and the real estate bubble bursting. The Nevada "success story" of the past has been found to be just a mirage, an illusion, a trick.

Can we be ignored?

We know what we need to fix our economy and put our state back on track. While Sandogibbons continues to dream of making it big time, many Nevadans' dreams of making it to the next day fade away. There were so many people in Grant Sawyer yesterday testifying of how they're trying to do the right thing by staying in school, working on college degrees, and aspiring for real, stable jobs. But as Sandogibbons and his merry band of cannibalistic teabaggers continue to pull the rug out from under them (by way of forcing class eliminations, school closures, further health care rationing, etc.), they don't know if they can survive here. [...]

Can we be ignored? Or is Nevada about to get a brutal wake-up call?

And funny enough, on that exact same day a "Deus ex machina" appeared... In the form of a Nevada Supreme Court ruling that was almost literally released at the 11th hour and just barely in time to stop the Legislature from collapsing without a budget agreement. Yet despite that, we only ended up with the usual political games of how much more to cut and how little to tax to keep funding schools at the ridiculously low levels they've always been. However, not all hope is lost. As we discussed at the start of this series, there may be efforts in the new year to finally get Nevada to invest in its people again. It may ultimately have to go to the ballot box, but at this point we may need to do that just so we no longer have to endure Carson City dragging its feet on making our schools work.

No comments:

Post a Comment