Tag Archives: Dan Schwartz

GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Fastens Onto Public Funds For Private Schools

Nevada gubernatorial candidate Dan Schwartz has planted his pennon securely on the so-called “Educational Savings Account” hill.  [RGJ] Schwartz’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned even though ESAs are of highly questionable constitutionality.

“Schwartz, a Republican who currently holds the office of state treasurer, told reporters in Las Vegas while announcing his candidacy that, if elected, he would not sign any bills from the Legislature without first seeing an “acceptable” ESA bill on his desk.” [RGJ]

The ESA program failed to secure enough support for enhancement in the last session of the legislature, which instead enacted tax credits for scholarships.  The “school choice” advocates saw this as a blow to their advocacy goals — specifically to the proposition that private schools are ‘better’ than public ones.  Perhaps it’s time to review the issues raised by the opponents?

The narrative, as framed by the proponents, is that private education is (1) better and (2) parents should have a choice to send their children to private schools.  The first proposition is dubious.  Private schools do send more of their students to college, but the reason may well be (and often is) that the schools themselves are selective in the first place.  When considering NCES reports on achievement the following caveat is of extreme importance, which is why it is reprinted here in full:

“When interpreting the results from any of these analyses, it should be borne in mind that private schools constitute a heterogeneous category and may differ from one another as much as they differ from public schools. Public schools also constitute a heterogeneous category. Consequently, an overall comparison of the two types of schools is of modest utility. The more focused comparisons conducted as part of this study may be of greater value. However, interpretations of the results should take into account the variability due to the relatively small sizes of the samples drawn from each category of private school, as well as the possible bias introduced by the differential participation rates across private school categories.

There are a number of other caveats. First, the conclusions pertain to national estimates. Results based on a survey of schools in a particular jurisdiction may differ. Second, the data are obtained from an observational study rather than a randomized experiment, so the estimated effects should not be interpreted in terms of causal relationships. In particular, private schools are “schools of choice.” Without further information, such as measures of prior achievement, there is no way to determine how patterns of self-selection may have affected the estimates presented. That is, the estimates of the average difference in school mean scores are confounded with average differences in the student populations, which are not fully captured by the selected student characteristics employed in this analysis.”  (emphasis added)

Those “patterns of self-selection” are “not fully captured” when the results of testing are reported, or this can be stated as: How private schools select attendees and the population from which they are drawn leaves some wide open questions about the conclusions offered on the effectiveness of instruction in private vs. public schools.

Secondly, the notion that there is no “school choice” at present is misleading in itself.  There is school choice, any parent may send a child to a public school, a private school, or choose to home school — the question is who pays for this.  What the “choice advocates” are saying is that taxpayers should fund the choice of a family to send children to private schools. A tangential argument is often raised that we should ‘expand the number of families who can choose to send children to private schools.’  Left unspoken are some of the practical issues — private schools can limit their enrollment, and if enrollment is limited then what of that “choice” being offered to their parents? Unlike public schools, private ones may select who is accepted for enrollment.  The decision not to offer special educations services is essentially self-selective.  There are some rural areas in which private education at the elementary and secondary level is non-existent or very limited.  In these instances there are few if any choices to be had.  Previous posts, here and here have addressed this issue in more detail.  (See also “Testing Turmoil,” and more on Schwartz’s previous advocacy here.)

Schwartz appears ready to ride this well worn draft horse throughout the campaign season.  It has some appeal — to those who sincerely wish to provide a religiously based curriculum for their offspring as well as to those who sincerely wish their children didn’t have to attend schools with members of other communities with whom they have little in common.  Compared to the economy, taxation, and other more relevant issues, this isn’t usually at the top of any voter’s list of primary concerns and Schwartz’s selection of it is more dog whistle (to ultra-conservatives) than a bull horn to the majority of Nevada voters.

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Immigration Myths and Legends and NV gubernatorial candidates

Nevada Republicans apparently have managed to recruit not one but two profoundly flawed candidates for Governor — Dubious Dan Schwartz, author of an alternative budget so far out in right field it found itself in the parking lot, and Adam Laxalt, The Adelson candidate du jour.  AG Laxalt joins the bevy of Republican officials who find no reason to challenge the Trumpian decision on DACA.  Better still, he’s an associate of notorious ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio:

“To date, Laxalt has shown zero interest in protecting Nevada’s DREAMers. In 2015, Laxalt added the State of Nevada to a lawsuit opposing President Obama’s immigration executive action with the goal of deporting DREAMers and tearing immigrant families apart. Laxalt is currently scheduled to appear this month at an event with disgraced former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a criminal and notorious bigot who racially profiled Latinos in Arizona.”

Laxalt and Schwartz do illustrate the topics Republicans want to talk about — immigrants, tax cuts, and the wedgies (guns and gays.)   Let’s focus on immigration for the moment.  Nevadans have been treated to a surfeit of salacious “alternative facts” on DACA, and some of the myths appear to have taken hold.  DACA encouraged child migration! — No, it didn’t.  DACA beneficiaries have taken jobs away from Americans — only if one buys into the Lump of Labor Fallacy.  Nor do DACA beneficiaries cost the American taxpayers much of anything — they aren’t eligible for federal means tested welfare, Medicaid, health care tax credits, or anything else.   Republicans sputter that ending DACA will keep us safer — however DACA requires a background check, no felonies, no serious misdemeanors, and only 2,139 of the 800,000 beneficiaries have lost permits because of criminal activity. The handy plastic brains show this amounts to 0.267%. [WaPo]

Looming on the dark horizon of GOP visions is the ever present phantasmagorical presence of More Immigrants.  Interesting isn’t it, that the danger always comes from (1) Mexico or Central America, or (2) Muslims.  However, as of 2015 about 15% of green card recipients were from Mexico, 7% came from China, 6.1% from India, 5.4% from the Philippines, and 5.2% from Cuba. [CNN] [see also DHS]  Little notice is given to the 4,765,000 immigrants of European origin. [MPO]

Enter the other conversation Republicans don’t want to have — racism in all its systemic, institutional, and individual forms.  The ultimate exercise in otiosity is to attempt to get a Republican candidate to admit that beneath their rhetoric about immigration is a deep layer of good old fashioned prejudice and racism.  European immigrants are ‘productive,’ Central American immigrants are ‘gang members.’  European immigrants ‘take opportunities,’ while Central American immigrants ‘take jobs.’  European and Asian immigrants are hard working, but Central American ones are potential criminals — as if Russian and Chinese organized crime operations are minimized by excluding discussion of their activities.

Who were the gangsters associated with the following?

“The suspects (+30) also face charges of extortion, gambling, narcotics trafficking, wire fraud, credit card fraud, and identity theft, according to law enforcement sources. Some of the charges carry a maximum penalty of decades in prison.”

No, not from Mexico, Central America, not MS 13 — they’re members of Russian organized crime in NYC.   There was some mention about the Chinese immigrants attempting to enter the US without documentation last August 27th. [ChicagoABC] Not much, nor is much said about Chinese organized crime moving into south eastern Asia.  For coverage of Australian-Chinese cooperation interdicting drug trafficking in the area one has to head to Australian or Chinese news sources.  Lets guess that the latest 13 tons of drugs captured weren’t all destined for Sydney and Melbourne?

However, broadening the focus on criminal activity to include a more global perspective doesn’t serve the purposes of the anti-immigration far right in the US, which voraciously consumes any and all news of Mexican and Central American criminal activity while minimizing the capacity of Asian and Russian gangs and cartels to wreak havoc.

Thus far candidate Schwartz has demonstrated his capacity to parrot talking points from the Trickle Down Hoax book of imaginary economics, while Laxalt has aligned himself with the Arpaio clan (a word carefully chosen) of racists and bigots.  Both are flawed, and both leave room for a centrist Democrat to make an effective run for Governor.

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Now, A Warning? SB 302 and the Privatization of NV Public Schools

vulture 2 It’s not like we weren’t warned.  Nevada’s SB 302, the notorious ESA, is a give-away to the few at the educational expense of the many.  State Senator Scott Hammond’s privatization bill is a GOP wet dream. It passed the Republican controlled Assembly on a 25-17 vote, and the Republican controlled Senate by 11-8. [NVLeg] Nevada Senators Atkinson, Denis, Ford, Kihuen, Manendo, Parks, Spearman, and Woodhouse had the foresight to vote “no.”  They were right. The law is not getting rave reviews:

“The ESA law requires the “statewide average basic support per pupil” — $5,100 per student and $5,710 for low-income, and students with disabilities — be deposited into each ESA from local district budgets, a process that will divert, over time, substantial resources from the public schools. Studies have shown that Nevada substantially underfunds K-12 public education. For example, calculations by the Guinn Center show that Nevada K-12 funding is over $3,000 per pupil, or $1.5 billion, below the amount determined adequate by a 2015 education cost study. A recent ENN analysis shows that, even after the Legislature increased funding in the biennium budget, most Nevada school districts, including Clark County, are once again facing shortfalls in their operating budgets for the 2015-16 school year.” [EJO]

But, but, but… “we increased funding for education…” Yes, I could opine that if I gave nothing to charity last year and a dollar this year then  my charity went up by 100%.  That doesn’t mean that the funding was adequate in the first place.  Nor does the law pass the Golden Rule Test: Do the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number.

There are 459,172 Nevada youngsters enrolled in K-12 schools, 318,040 were enrolled in Clark County, and 63,108 in Washoe County. There were 2,574 enrolled in WCSD charters; 6,053 in CCSD charters, and 244 in Carson charters. [NVDE]  Thus, charter school students comprise only 0.019 of Nevada’s total school enrollment.  Students enrolled in private schools constitute about 3.08% of Nevada’s total enrollment. [NVED]  The good news is that there aren’t very many students attending private or charter schools to drain resources (at the moment), the bad news is that SB 302 encourages parents to remove their children from public schools and “take the money with them” to private ones.

The devilish details: The provisions of SB 302 are not scheduled to go into effect until January 2016, but the devil, as always is going to be in the details.  The Nevada Treasurer, Dan Schwartz, appears to be most concerned that the ESA funds aren’t subject to ‘fraud.’

“We are keenly aware of how many parents have been asking for choices when it comes to their children’s education. Our team is committed to developing a quality program that avoids the mistakes of the Nevada Health Link and works effectively and efficiently to implement its objectives” said Treasurer Schwartz. “I want to see these accounts funded as soon as possible, but we must ensure that processes are in place to make enrolling simple and payment fair and devoid of fraud. Today’s announcement marks the first step of many towards true universal school choice for all Nevada families,” concluded Schwartz.” [NVT pdf]

First, there’s nothing quite like having the Tea Party Darling Treasurer take a pot shot at the ACA in a totally unrelated press release, but perhaps that’s to be expected.  Secondly, that Tea Party expression, “true universal school choice,” isn’t a dog whistle; it’s a bull horn announcement about the privatization of public education.  The Treasurer wants a “simple, fair, and devoid of fraud” system.  The problem is that “fraud” isn’t defined in this statement.  This doesn’t stop the Treasurer’s office from moving right along.

The State Treasurer expects to implement the ESA’s by April 2016, and is already accepting applications.  [STO]  The application form satisfies the “simple” part of State Treasurer Schwartz’s formula. Name, grade, address, attendance in a public or charter school for 100 days?  But now a gremlin shows up.

“The Treasurer’s Office has been notified by the Nevada Department of Education, that pursuant to NRS 388.850, a private school or “home school” student may not participate in a program of distance education (online class) to satisfy the 100 school day requirement. However, a private school or “home school” student may qualify for an ESA by taking one or more classes in a public or charter school, pursuant to NRS 386.580(5) and 392.070(3).” [STO]

And there are more pesky details.  At issue here is the “100 day” enrollment requirement, which even home-school advocates admit has been “successful” in Arizona, and which prevents “yo-yo” parenting, i.e. home-schooling a youngster, then enrolling the child in a school only to pull the child out and resuming the home-schooling.  [NHN fb] There are more difficult determinations to be made.

“Under section 12 of this bill, each child on whose behalf a grant is made must take certain standardized examinations in mathematics and English language arts. Subject to applicable federal privacy laws, a participating entity must provide those test results to the Department of Education, which must aggregate the results and publish data on the results and on the academic progress of children on behalf of whom grants are made. Under section 13 of this bill, the State Treasurer must make available a list of all entities who are participating in the grant program, other than parent of a child.” [NVLeg]

Okay, I see “mathematics and English language arts,” but I do not see Science? Social Studies?  So, could a parent enroll a child in the Fly In The Night School which doesn’t provide instruction in science or social studies? And, still apply for a grant? Or, must the schools on the approved list also comply with the state curriculum standards

If so, and most legitimate private schools do, in fact, offer much the same curricula as the public ones, then fine. However, if the answer is “no” or “maybe” then we’re treading into controversial areas like creationism, in which the radical Christian elements call for:  “Specific textbook chapters on Biblical and scientific creationism should be included in all science textbooks written for the Christian community. The rest of the textbook content, as well as all other curricular materials, should contain the principles and elements of Biblical and scientific creationism in a fully integrated form.” [ICR]  This view hinges on I Corinthians 2:14-16 and Colossians 3:2 – and that brings up the issues related to the Nevada Constitution.

“The legislature shall provide for a uniform system of common schools, by which a school shall be established and maintained in each school district at least six months in every year, and any school district which shall allow instruction of a sectarian character therein may be deprived of its proportion of the interest of the public school fund during such neglect or infraction, and the legislature may pass such laws as will tend to secure a general attendance of the children in each school district upon said public schools.” [NV Const. Art 2 Sect 2]

Now, we have to ask: If a school receives state money from the state treasury does it have to adhere to the provisions of the Nevada Constitution?  If the school doesn’t take state public funds then there’s obviously no question about what curriculum it may adopt, but if the school takes the public funding and teaches Creationism…?

Back in the Social Studies Department, NRS 389 requires instruction in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Nevada Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the “origin and history of the Constitution,” along with “the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals; and Civics.”  Instruction in American History is also required.  The state legislature has also been relatively specific about what should be taught in terms of financial literacy. {NRS 389.074} These provisions include “developing financial responsibility,” managing finances, using credit and consumer protection laws and the benefits of financial regulation.

The implementation of SB 302 could get interesting, especially when discussing American History curricula.  SB 302 contains a provision which makes this tricky territory:

“The State Treasurer may refuse to allow such an entity to continue to participate in the program if the State Treasurer finds that the entity fails to comply with applicable provisions of law or has failed to provide educational services to a child who is participating in the program.” 

Remember, the law (NRS 389) requires instruction in “the study of and devotion to American institutions.”  Would a “school” which promotes the secessionists ideals of the 51st State, or the Texas Nationalist Movement, or the Alaska Independent Party, or the “A New State Initiative,” [Alternet] be in compliance with NRS 389? Or, what’s “devotional” about the ramblings of former drive-time radio jockey Glenn Beck’s version of US History in which everything’s been going downhill since the administration of Woodrow Wilson? [NewYorker]

Section 9 of SB 302 provides for funding: tuition and fees; textbooks; tutoring; distance education; test fees; special instruction for children with disabilities; the purchase of curricula and supplemental materials to administer the curricula.

Does this section mean that state funds could be allocated to schools which promote Intelligent Design? State tax dollars spent on spurious science?   [Mooney] Or, curricula/supplemental materials promoting the preservation of white male privilege and exceptionality? [Salon]  One of those pesky details the Treasurer’s Office will have to address is which educational entities are allowed to receive state funds and what the criteria will be.

On the other hand, would a school which is Afro-Centric, or Hispanic Oriented, be eligible for ESA funding? Would supplemental materials from Planned Parenthood be covered under Section 9 (SB 302) for health education?  Would the Treasurer’s office include a school on the approved list which caters to the needs and views of the LGBT community?  When the radical right demands “universal school choice” they might want to be careful what they wish for?

Lastly, there’s the obfuscating title of the great give-away: Educational Savings Accounts.  There’s no savings there. This isn’t a matter of “saving” anything – it’s simply a give-away to those who want to pull their kids out of school and take the tax money with them.

What to watch for:  (1) The criteria developed by the State Treasurer’s Office for the approval of educational entities entitled to receive funding from the ESA’s.  (2) The applicability of the state Constitutional provisions on sectarian education; and (3) The applicability of state laws (NRS 389) to the materials and curricula adopted by the entitled entities.

Put the popcorn in the micro-wave in April 2016?

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Well now, that was embarrassing: NV Treasurer Diss’es Governor

Schwartz bus  The following masterpiece of understatement captures what happened yesterday at the Assembled Wisdom in Carson City:

“Things did not go well for newly elected Nevada Treasurer Dan Schwartz Thursday at the Nevada Legislature.” [RGJ]

It really doesn’t do to garner headlines like: “Nevada lawmakers tell treasurer his budget proposal is embarrassing.” [LVRJ] Or, “Nevada treasurer blasted by own party for submitting alternative budget.” [LVSun]  Then the Elko Daily Free Press chimed in, “Nevada treasurer’s budget called ‘absurdity’.”  And, to ice the cupcake, there’s the part wherein some conservative members of the Assembled Wisdom may have tossed Mr. Schwartz under the venerable clichéd bus:

“Schwartz told The Associated Press last week that he met with a group of Assembly and Senate Republicans interested in drafting a bill reflecting the alternative budget. Several conservative Republican lawmakers say they’re trying to block Sandoval’s plan, which will need the votes of two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass.” [EDFP]

Needless to say, Mr. Schwartz back-tracked after the Debacle, saying the whole thing was his idea.  Treasurer meet the underside of the bus tires? Newly elected State Controller Ron Knecht seems to have had the good sense to remain quietly in the background after initially approving of Mr. Schwartz’s proposition. [LVRJ]

When the Dynamic Duo launched their Alternative Budget on or about February 3rd, it did have some numbers in it…they just weren’t the Governor’s numbers.  Nor did the Duo think through the implementation of their specifics, all three pages of them.  For example, precisely how would the state collect their Quarter a Plate restaurant tax? Then, there was the infamous, and illegal, airport tax notion. [LVRJ] It’s not like he wasn’t warned the ill-fated proposal wouldn’t have a glorious reception.

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