Last week, I advised that if you have kids, move someplace else. They will have a hard time getting a decent education here as Nevada plunges ass-first toward the 19th century.
Somebody has already taken my advice. Washoe County School Superstar Superintendent Heath Morrison wants to get the hell outta Dodge.
The low-hanging fruit has been picked, the PR spin is glorious and his sandals have never gotten wet while walking across Virginia Lake.
Except that black kids are drowning. I can’t find recent mention of them on the Washoe County School District’s website.
Former Tribune writer Dennis Myers reported in the June 11, 2009, Reno News & Review that “in 2006, the African-American graduation rate nearly reached 50 percent. By last year (2008), it had dropped to a third.”
Actually, it was worse. The rate for black males fell from 23 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2008, according to statistics developed by former Hug High Principal Debra Feemster, who personally interviewed every African-American senior.
These numbers were presented to the new superintendent at a Nov. 2, 2009, Reno-Sparks NAACP education committee meeting. New Deputy Superintendent Pedro Martinez attended (he left for Gomorrah South after a short tenure), along with WCSD elected trustees Estela Gutierrez, Barbara Clark and Dr. Barbara McLaury.
Dr. Feemster, who happens to be married to NAACP President Lonnie Feemster, seriously questioned numbers that had been published by the school district.
“We hired Heath’s skill set to address these appalling statistics,” Clark responded. “We will not settle for same-old same-old. We need new approaches ... You can tell by his hiring, you will see that change. We guarantee you will see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
Then, as now, Dr. Morrison trumpeted his “strategic plan” to everyone who would listen. Awhile later at a meeting of the Truckee Meadows Democratic Alliance, I said, “Dr. Morrison, this is the third time I’ve seen some version of your presentation. Tonight is the first time you’ve mentioned money. You actually used the word ‘budget’ in your PowerPoint slides. How do you plan to fund all this?”
He responded that he would develop the plan to show the state Legislature what must be done to bring the district to excellence and it would be up to them to fund it. Dreamer.
During World War I, the great American humorist Will Rogers asserted that he had come up with a way to sink German submarines that were devastating Allied shipping.
“Boil the ocean,” he advised. Make it so hot down there that those U-boats would have to surface where they would be easy to pick off.
Which begged the question as to how to boil said ocean.
“That’s a detail matter,” Rogers winked, “I’m a policy maker.”
Which pretty much explains why he who walks on water slid to North Carolina for a job interview.
The America of recent decades has become a moonscape of privatizing the public good for personal profit. Witness the hospitals right here in River City.
Public education is the enemy of private profiteering. So the bad guys starve the beast and get plenty of help from the education establishment.
Last week, I reported how the state teachers union leadership turned on a dime and now refuses to support a Nevada State AFL-CIO petition to increase education funding through a broad-based business levy on the likes of tax-scallion Wal-Mart.
On Sam Shad’s Nevada Newsmakers show, recorded April 4, Nevada State Education Association President Lynn Warne said, “We’re going to move that initiative forward.”
On the same day, she gave an interview to David McGrath Schwartz of the Las Vegas Sun who reported “the state’s teachers union said Wednesday that it won’t sign off on the latest version of the tax on business profits being proposed by the state’s largest labor union.”
Lynn was for it just before she was against it.
Morrison looks smarter than ever. He’s driven his hot lap and now he’s steering for the East Coast.
Nevada remains in great danger of being successfully sued for not discharging her constitutional duty to properly fund education.
Maybe the only solution is to change the state constitution and fold all public school systems. That would immediately solve every budget problem and we would finally own up to the fact that the gambling-mining industrial complex doesn’t want or need an educated workforce. Everybody would get a tax cut. Republican nirvana in the high desert.
Those who can afford schooling for their children could buy from the likes of Andre Agassi or Bishops Gorman and Manogue. The rest can move somewhere else.
North Carolina, perhaps.
On the afternoon of April 25, Nevada will remember workers killed and injured on the job as local unions take part in the national commemoration of Workers Memorial Day. If you want to participate, contact the chairman of the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council’s WMD Committee. Me.
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Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 43-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org, and first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.