NPRI RADIO COMMENTARIES

The Private School Solution

Something very rare for Nevada is about to take place.In two Reno neighborhoods, private schools are set to open this fall. Wingfield Springs Community School will likely have 20 to 30 students for the coming school year, and Thomas Creek Estates will open a school to accommodate 120 pupils. Gary Derck, general manager of Wingfield Springs, hoped the successful passage of a school bond proposal last year would ensure a new public school for his development. But the bond issue was defeated, and now Wingfield Springs is courageously going it alone. University of Nevada Education Professor Martha Combs doesn’t quite grasp the good news here. "It’s too bad the bond issue failed and the opportunity is there now to not have funding for public schools," the clueless professor told the Reno Gazette-Journal. That’s typical for the academic community—to them government is always the answer.

But Wingfield Springs residents are thrilled about sending their kids to a private school. "People are looking for more individual instruction which this school will offer. People who are interested in that are willing to pay for it," said future resident Robyn Clyne. Of course they are: Private schools consistently outperform public schools, and spend far less money per pupil. Two new private schools are a welcome addition to Nevada’s education system. With some luck, more communities will decide to construct and run their own schools. A little competition will go a long towards breaking apart the monopolistic mediocrity of Nevada’s education system.

Celebrity Suck-Ups

In Washington recently, Nevada Senator Harry Reid met with an activist for animal rights. She wanted to let Reid know how trainers beat elephants to make the animals perform tricks. The activist’s names is Kim Basinger. You may remember her from several of her movies—she spends a lot of time taking her clothes off. The fact that she was even allowed to meet with a United States Senator begs the question why our society—and even more disturbingly, our government officials—treat actors, actresses, and movie directors as authorities on anything besides the entertainment industry?

Basinger isn’t the first celebrity to be given credibility by Washington. Her husband Alec Baldwin is a vocal defender of federal funding for the arts, and even appeared on CNN’s Crossfire once to state his case. Rob Reiner—"Meathead" for you All in the Family fans—has been talking up a storm lately about the need for a governmental role in early child development.

And who can forget the silly Alar scare a few years ago? Back then Meryl Streep even testified before Congress on how evil apple farmers were giving the nation’s children cancer. Hollywood activism certainly isn’t new: ever since the House Un-American Activities Committee examined the entertainment industry’s politics in the forties and fifties, performers have been jetting across "flyover country" to D.C. to deliver their profound insights. But the celebrity suck-ups in Washington—which now seem to include Senator Reid—should stop being starstruck and realize Hollywood actors and actresses aren’t public policy analysts.

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