TO THE PARENTS OF NEVADA’S PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS

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<p>Dale Erquiaga, left, Nevada superintendent of public instruction, and Board President Elaine Wynn as seen during the state Board of Education meeting at Department of Education in Las Vegas in September.</p>

We all have standards. Higher standards are good, too, sometimes.

Of course, what is a high standard for you may not be for me, and vice versa. We noted with interest the promotion of an essay on the website of a group called Conservatives for Higher Standards by the Nevada State Superintendent of Education, Dale Erquiaga. Mr. Erquiaga was appointed in August by Gov. Sandoval and we haven’t heard much from him since.

So we read with interest the essay that he liked and promoted on his Twitter page. It was about curriculum, basically saying that even if students in Nevada and around the country have to buckle down to the “Common Core” test standards, that doesn’t mean Washington, D.C. determines the curriculum at your school.

All true, ’spose.

But because these are ferocious, red-meat-eating conservatives, apparently 100 percent Republican, endorsed by Mr. Erquiaga, they go a tad wee little bit farther down the rhetorical road. The essay encourages parents to complain to their teachers and school board and school administrations if they, the parents, find something icky in their child’s school assignments.

And what makes a school book icky? The LIBERALS, of course. You know the type. The kind that act all hoity-toity with their fancy school-book edjumacations and whatnot.

“If you suspect your child is being taught using inappropriate books or asked to perform reading assignments that promote a liberal agenda, speak up!” the essay urges. In fact, that’s the final line of the short piece. The money shot, as it were.

Judy Osgood, Mr. Erquiaga’s spokeswoman, did her best to put a nice face on it, the jihad against the liberal. She said that her boss’s point is that parents can get involved in local school and classroom decisions, and who can argue with that?

“The point is not so much to say that the Department of the Superintendent agrees that there are inappropriate books out there… but that parents should and can get involved in the selection of instructional materials on the local level,” Osgood said.

Of course, the essay specifically condemns not just any books, but those books that “promote a liberal agenda.” She couldn’t say which books, exactly, constituted this liberal (red!) menace. But I’m pretty confident that we can identify them.

Think about this, parents of Nevada’s public-school children. Even as you read these very words, there may be school children reading Kurt Vonnegut. Maya Angelou. Charles Darwin. Shel Silverstein. Elie Wiesel. H.G. Wells.

And we know for a fact that teachers are throwing around books and stories by that liberal darling, anti-war activist, humanist-fellow traveler and all-around horrible man Mark Twain. The horror. You’d think Twain was somehow Nevada’s favorite son.

Anyway, once we’ve rounded up those horrible liberal words on paper and Kindles and websites and skywriting, what should we do with them? The offending books and magazines and newspapers and whatnot?

Mr. Erquiaga is a nice man, we understand, and he certainly isn’t suggesting book burning. But if we’re asking parents to get involved, why would we just say get rid of “liberal” books and ideas, whatever that means? Can’t we just say, “Get involved?” Wouldn’t that be a higher standard for conservatives and liberals alike?

Signed,

Yours in Bibliophobia,

CityLife