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Public Education Year In Review: Who’s the enemy?

Back in the day, they put Socrates and Jesus, both teachers, to death for striving for academic excellence. And, judging by the viciousness of the current corporate-based education reform movement in America, and subsequently Nevada, not much has changed in the treatment of our children’s educators for the past several millennia.

Socrates once said: “Teaching goes poor and nude.” But he failed to mention that teachers also are treated like total crap, vilified, bullied and turned into sheepish little twits, afraid of their own shadows in their classrooms.

Which brings us to Elaine Wynn, the blonde badass billionaire of Babylon. A few years ago, she was heading up the Governor’s Education Reform Blue Ribbon Task Force to win federal money from President Obama’s sick little shell game called Race To The Top federal funding. During one heated debate, Wynn, an excessively wealthy grandmother, stridently said that anyone who takes the side of local teachers in the education dialogue, instead of aligning with her and her beloved and brutalizing reform platform, is “sleeping with the enemy.”

Strong words.

What she failed to mention, at the time, was that her gambling saloon was making tons of money in China. And, reportedly, it was paying the Chinese nearly 40 percent in gaming taxes to help support the socialist schools there. Yet, she refers to people here who might be on the side of humble school teachers as “sleeping with the enemy.”

Hmm. Who’s really sleeping with the enemy?

By comparison, the base gaming tax rate in Nevada, much to Wynn’s enrichment, is 6.75 percent, reportedly the lowest gaming tax rate in the world.

Need a scapegoat for the ills of society? Sure, blame a teacher. That strategy seems to have deflected attention away from the truly guilty for millennia. Just ask Socrates. Or Pontius Pilate.

Thus, in what surely is Nevada’s education story of the year by the very nature of its absurdity, Elaine Wynn, appointed by Governor Sandoval, became president of the state’s school board in 2013.

How is this absurd?

Well, Wynn has profited handsomely from a gambling industry that has notoriously powerful lobbyists who keep state legislators from raising gaming taxes to a reasonable amount in order to support public education. Choosing her for a leadership role in our state’s schools is like picking Adolf Hitler to head up a fundraiser for Jewish orphans.

Perhaps those MTV people who make the ludicrous Jackass movies could make this script about a ruthless casino mogul turned caring educator into a kick-ass funny film.

Bad Grandma.

To heighten this humor, as pointed out by Review-Journal editorial writer Glen Cook, Wynn herself donated, through various sources, approximately $34,500 for two Teach for America alumna— Allison Serafin and Alexis Gonzales-Black— to be elected to the state board of education, over which Wynn now resides as president.


Plus, a Washington Post education blog recently revealed that these same two new state school board members from Nevada have also received suspiciously generous political donations from out-of-state sources, including a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors and, another, a politically conservative CEO of a hedge fund.

Of such questionable activities, former Teach for America corps member Gary Rubenstein has said: “Teach for America leaders are some of the most destructive forces in public education. Rather than be honest about their successes and their failures, they deny any failures, and charge forward with an agenda that has not worked and never will.”

Wow. If that sentry Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet thought something was rotten up yonder in Denmark, one wonders what he might think if he could capture a whiff of what’s going on down here with the new Ya-Ya Sisterhood of public education in Nevada.

Although Wynn and her anti-teacher mania is the top story of the year in education, there have been other melodramas vying for their fair share of ink here. These are some events from 2013 also worthy of note:

1. The sudden resignation of CCSD Superintendent Dwight Jones. This black Moses from Colorado, preaching about the promised land of academic reform, came, saw but he surely didn’t conquer public education in our gambling culture here. When the going got tough, he simply got going— abandoning our children in the middle of the school year.

2. The strange disappearance of State Superintendent James Guthrie. Another Sandoval appointee, this befuddled reformist truly believed the reform movement’s ongoing message about giving teachers raises based on merit, up to the salary of doctors. Which would have cost taxpayers an extra $200 million per year. Hence, the pseudo-reformist Sandoval un-appointed him.

3. The blind acceptance here of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. These phony “national education standards” have been heavily touted by Nevada’s ignorant politicians and, hence, tragically adopted for our schools. However, in the first year of their use in New York State, test scores dropped a whopping 30 percent. Other states that actually care about education are quickly seeing the sham behind what is becoming known as “The Common Whore Standards.” And those states are proceeding to get rid of them. Unfortunately, Nevada is not one of those states.

4. The good news of 2013: Thousands of new teachers came to Vegas from elsewhere, some of them great, most of them good teachers, many of whom want to settle down and effectively educate Vegas’ children for many years to come, in spite of the shit wages and piss poor treatment of teachers here.

Thus, another year in education bites the dust. Or, just plain bites. Nonetheless, whatever it is, education in Nevada, especially in Vegas, is always entertaining— if only brutally so, like those hilarious Jackass movies. So, please, someone call MTV for the New Year!

CHIP MOSHER is a simple classroom teacher.