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Debunking the biggest funding myth in Nevada

So there’s Big Foot. The Loch Ness Monster. Leprechauns. Mermaids. And, of course, the Space Aliens being hidden at the top secret Area 51 military complex in Nevada’s outback.

But none of those even come close to the biggest myth in Nevada: The “Underfunding Education” creature!

Indeed, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s entire $1.3 billion tax hike is being sold on the basis of this myth that Nevada citizens are not paying enough for public education. And the governor is so good at spinning this yarn – originally invented by the teachers’ union – that lots of people in Nevada have bought into it.

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. The Retail Association of Nevada. Even some Republican state legislators who should know better.

Fortunately, I happen to know an expert myth-buster by the name of Victor Joecks over at the Nevada Policy Research Institute. And Mr. Joecks has uncovered evidence that Nevada taxpayers are actually OVER-spending on public education.

Indeed, according to figures compiled by the Legislative Counsel Bureau last October, Nevada taxpayers spent $8,781 per student in 2011, the last year figures were available. And thanks to grants and additional federal assistance for our worst-performing schools, that amount is probably closer to $15,000 per student in many schools.

So let’s do a little math, shall we? Class, take out your No. 2 pencils…

OK, let’s say there are 30 kids in a given Nevada classroom – about the average size when I was a kid before all the whining and bellyaching about “class size reduction.”

And since most of us went to a public school long ago, let’s make this math problem a little easier by rounding off the per-student figure to $9,000. So 30 times 9,000 equals…

That means Nevada taxpayers are providing, at a minimum, a whopping $270,000 per year to educate those 30 kids.

And in some low-income and minority communities, that figure is probably closer to almost a HALF MILLION dollars.

For ONE classroom!

Now, most teachers are seriously underpaid. I don’t know the exact starting salary, but let’s say it’s $50,000 per year. That means you could DOUBLE the teacher’s pay to six figures and STILL have another $170,000+ to spend in the classroom to teach Johnny to read, write and do arithmetic.

It’s simple math. The problem isn’t that we’re Underfunding Education. The problem is we’re overfunding the education bureaucracy.

Alas, despite the fact that no actual proof exists that the “Underfunding Education” creature exists, some naïve people, especially our governor, believe this myth with every bit as much conviction as some people believe in Big Foot.

At least you and I don’t have to pay for people’s belief in Big Foot. But when it comes to funding public education …

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grassroots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.MuthsTruths.com.

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