Welcome to Bernie’s ‘Brave New World,’ where parents and achievement no longer exist

Together, we will make sure that no child in Nevada goes hungry. Hundreds of thousands of Nevada school children are in need of school lunches. Instead of saddling families with debt and stigma, we will fund universal school meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Yes, an op-ed in the morning paper by Bernie Sanders advocates providing children three hots a day, so why not a cot, too? Children can’t learn if they don’t sleep well, and parents are so unreliable about providing such necessities, aren’t they?

He goes on to call for raising teacher starting pay to $60,000 a year and providing grants for out-of-pocket expenses.

As for achievement standards, Sanders dismisses those out of hand:

Instead of forcing teachers to “teach to the test,” we will respect their professional expertise in setting standards of student evaluation. We will not condition school funding on testing outcomes. In Nevada, the “high stakes” aspect of standardized tests means some underperforming schools will be converted into charters, which are less accountable. That is a perversion of what testing and evaluation is all about, and it is undermining public education.

Just give everyone a participation trophy, I mean diploma.

Sanders concludes, “You are a critical part of the political revolution that is needed to transform our country. When we stand together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”

Accomplish?

From Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World“:

There was a silence; then, clearing his throat, ‘Once upon a time,’ the Director began, ‘while Our Ford was still on earth, there was a little boy called Reuben Rabinovitch. Reuben was the child of Polish-speaking parents.’ The Director interrupted himself. ‘You know what Polish is, I suppose?’

‘A dead language.’

‘Like French and German,’ added another student, officiously showing off his learning.

‘And “parent?”?’ questioned the D.H.C.

There was an uneasy silence. Several of the boys blushed. They had not yet learned to draw the significant but often very fine distinction between smut and pure science. One, at last, had the courage to raise a hand.

‘Human beings used to be…’ he hesitated; the blood rushed to his cheeks. ‘Well, they used to be viviparous.’

‘Quite right.’ The Director nodded approvingly.

‘And when the babies were decanted…’

‘”Born”,’ came the correction.

‘Well, then they were the parents–I mean, not the babies, of course; the other ones.’ The poor boy was overwhelmed with confusion.

‘In brief,’ the Director summed up, ‘the parents were the father and the mother.’ The smut that was really science fell with a crash into the boys’ eye-avoiding silence. ‘Mother,’ he repeated loudly rubbing in the science; and, leaning back in his chair, ‘These,’ he said gravely, ‘are unpleasant facts; I know it. But, then, most historical facts are unpleasant.’

He returned to Little Reuben–to Little Reuben, in whose room, one evening, by an oversight, his father and mother (crash, crash!) happened to leave the radio turned on.

(‘For you must remember that in those days of gross viviparous reproduction, children were always brought up by their parents and not in State Conditioning Centres.’)

Those are the Alphas and Betas, not the the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, who are bred to be workers in Huxley’s world. What will become of Bernie’s Epsilons?

 

Newspaper column: New Nevada or Brave New Nevada? It’s just a matter of degree

In his State of the State speech Gov. Brian Sandoval called for the creation of a “New Nevada.” He used the term eight times in the speech so he must have meant it.

“Because of our collective effort,” he said, “I believe we now stand at the threshold of a New Nevada — a Nevada prepared to take its place among the most innovative, visionary and well-educated states in the nation.”

His budget calls for increasing taxes by $1.3 billion and sweeping another half a billion from other funds into the general fund to pay for all-day kindergarten, early learning programs, free breakfasts at school, English language learner programs, dropout prevention, digital devices for students, social workers to combat bullying, “Read by Three” and more.

He bragged about how expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare had cut the number of uninsured adults from 23 percent to 11 percent and Nevada Check-Up had cut the number of uninsured children from 15 percent to 2 percent.

“We have to own the fact that our K-12 system doesn’t need to improve, it must improve,” the governor insisted, later adding, “Our most troubling education statistic is Nevada’s worst-in-the-nation high school graduation rate.”

With his voice rising to the rafters of the Assembly chambers and nearly thumping the dais with his fists, Sandoval admonished: “I submit to you this evening that an education system for this century requires bold new ideas to meet the reality of our time. I am asking the Legislature to join me in beginning the work of comprehensive modernization of our education system to meet the needs of today’s students and the New Nevada. This work begins with our youngest learners.”

Yet, the vast majority of the things he proposes spending money on have failed elsewhere to improve student test scores or increase graduation rates.

If the governor wants bold, he should call for creating a “Brave New Nevada.” That would be truly innovative and visionary.

If parents can’t afford to feed their children breakfast or cannot teach them to speak English or cannot provide health care, then it is the responsibility of the state, of course. The governor says so.

Half measures such as those outlined by Gov. Sandoval fall short of his ambitious objectives. Therefore, the state should make all children wards of the state at birth and place them in round-the-clock public nurseries run by efficient and highly qualified public employee union members who can retire at the age of 45 with 85 percent of their highest salary for life. That also solves the unemployment problem right there.

Some of these children will be afflicted with attention deficit problems or other behavioral woes, but their free health care will provide nice, calming drugs to make them all sufficiently pliable little drones so as to not unduly burden our highly qualified and efficient public employee union members.

Instead of learning to read by the third grade, some could be learning to read by the age of 3.

As for the graduation rate, simply raise the mandatory school attendance age to 22. Those who are too frequently truant would be placed in maximum security public schools. Dropout rate fixed.

To pay for all this, raise the tax on cigarettes by $4 a pack instead of the measly 40 cents proposed by the governor. Surely no one would quit smoking. That would be unpatriotic. Triple the alcohol tax, too.

Raise the sales tax to 30 percent. Without all those kids to feed, clothe, medicate and provide shelter, that’s affordable. Raise the Modified Business Tax on business payrolls from less than 2 percent to 50 percent. It’s not an income tax, which is prohibited by the state Constitution, because it is never income to begin with.

Of course, cut the gaming tax to zero to attract more tourists and their money to Brave New Nevada.

All it takes is more money and state control to create this Brave New Nevada.

New Nevada and Brave New Nevada are grounded in the same principles. They merely differ by a matter of degree.

A version of this column appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.