Nevada again draws a poor report card

I see where the Review-Journal published without notable dissent (lede story, Page 2B, Jan. 16) another one of these cooked-up “report cards” on how Nevada is doing, this one from a Henderson-based outfit calling itself the Children’s Advocacy Alliance.

As usual, the finding was: “We suck.”

Oh, the state scored an A-minus for infant and child mortality and a B-plus for alcohol and tobacco use. (Apparently that means most Nevada infants have not yet taken up cocktails and cigars. I TOLD you the casinos would suffer for taking away all those comps.)

But after that our grades pretty much went to hell, with Nevada drawing “F”s for immunization rates of 2-year-olds (69 percent); children without health insurance (47th in the nation) and mothers receiving prenatal care (49th in the nation.)

Those rankings netted the Silver State a “D-plus” grade in children’s health, while the worst overall grade was the state’s ”F” in education, caused by Nevada’s 50th ranking among the states in high-school dropout rate and 45th ranking in spending per student.

Where to begin?

Lots of women giving birth in Nevada hospitals — way up in the double-digits percentages — are illegal aliens. While it would indeed be nice if prenatal care were readily available and affordable in the Third World countries most of these women hail from, if it’s not, how is that our problem?

The clear implication is that Nevada taxpayers should provide not just free maternity wards where these illegal invaders stand a much better chance of delivering a healthy child than they would back home (instant citizenship; more welfare; yay!) but also unlimited free “prenatal care.”

Women tend to get better prenatal care when they’re wealthier. A good way to increase the general level of wealth (see America: 1781 through 1912) is to lower the government seizures known as “taxes” — especially taxes that punish the accumulation of job-creating capital. Yet why do I suspect the Children’s Advocacy Alliance would instead advocate higher taxes to subsidize second-rate prenatal care for illegal immigrants, thus leaving Americans who have worked hard to join the middle class with less of their own earnings to pay for their own prenatal care — at the same time inadequate “Medicaid” reimbursements force doctors to hike up fees for their paying customers?

The same quibbles could apply to Nevada’s reported infant immunization rate, though there’s a more important point to be made, here.


There’s not much evidence that these shots work very well. When there are outbreaks of the diseases they’re supposed to guard against, “immunized” children can be infected at rates similar to those not immunized. The manufacturers often claim effectiveness rates around 70 percent for the first few years — which ain’t great — but offer no guarantees.

Parents should be free to make their own evaluations of risk versus effectiveness of these shots for their individual children, though “public health advocates” are notoriously poor about acknowledging (let alone publicizing) risks, which can include autism if vaccines are preserved with Thimerosal, and permanent brain damage where the pertussis shots (usually packaged inside a “DPT” shot) are concerned.

Read the books of Neil Z. Miller. Peruse such Web sites as;;; and

Ask why — if everything is “perfectly safe” — we have a national Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund, how many victims it compensates, and how many claims are turned down as “not proven.”

Ask why the “attenuated” Sabin polio vaccine is the largest cause of polio in America, and why the safer Salk “killed” vaccine is now so hard to get.

And then there’s “education.”

Nevada’s spending on government schooling only ranks 45th among the 50 states if you exclude the cost of building new schools, which we were doing a lot of, until the 2008 downturn. Include school construction and bonded construction debt service and Nevada has ranked about in the middle of the 50 states in recent years.

But who says spending per student on the government youth propaganda camps can even be shown to CORRELATE with high education achievement — let alone that it’s causative?

The District of Columbia spends more per student on government youth internment camps than any of the 50 states. Educational achievement there sucks, as it does in other big-spending, big-city districts. Utah’s per capita spending is quite low, as is Vermont’s. Their educational achievement is above average.

And we haven’t even gotten to that old bugaboo, the “dropout rate.”

Why on earth would anyone consider a “low dropout rate” to be a good thing? Would you want everyone who applies to medical school to end up licensed to dice your innards? Don’t you want a large percentage of would-be doctors who can’t make the grade to be “flunked out,” no matter how hard they “try”? Beyond the elementary grades, isn’t that “screening” function part of the job of any legitimate educational institution?

In European countries that regularly whup our butts in academic competition — and where it’s considered nothing unusual for a high school graduates to speak three languages fluently, where most American high-schoolers are lucky to speak one — the “dropout rate” (as we’d measure it here) is routinely at or above 50 percent, since about half of eighth graders are told, “With your grades, you’re going to take up an apprenticeship and have a nice career as a small-engine mechanic — no college preparatory courses for you.”

The notion that 90 percent or more of the young people in any large population — especially a population whose main intellectual pursuits are TV-watching and skateboarding — are well suited to go on to become doctors, engineers or even investment bankers is laughable on its face.


The essay is now a decade old, but as Chester Finn, a fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former assistant secretary of education, writes at : “Banish forever the consoling thought that, however mediocre the educational attainments of the average U.S. child, ‘our best students are still the best in the world.’ … It turns out that U.S. high school seniors — including the best and brightest among them — are the worst in the industrial world in math and science. It also turns out that the U.S. is the only country where kids do worse the longer they stay in school.

“Today the U.S. Department of Education officially releases the damning data, which come from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, a set of tests administered to half a million youngsters in 41 countries in 1995. But the results have trickled out. … Today we learn that our 12th-graders occupy the international cellar. And that’s not even counting the Asian lands like Singapore, Korea and Japan that trounced our kids in the younger grades. They chose not to participate in this study. …

“The results for advanced math and physics were even worse. … Just 14 percent of American seniors even qualified for the math test; they had to have taken (or be taking) pre calculus or calculus. The U.S. came in second-worst, besting only Austria. …

“The public school establishment is already at work concocting excuses,” Mr. Finn predicted a decade ago — and see if anything he says here sounds familiar. “They will blame parents, or leaky school roofs, or inadequately equipped labs or a shortage of ‘certified’ teachers. They will demand more money. …

“But the failings revealed by the Third International Mathematics and Science Study cannot be explained away by lack of resources or corrected by more of the same. The U.S. has been ‘reforming’ its schools for the better part of two decades. We’ve tried a hundred different programs and a thousand gimmicks. We’ve poured countless billions of dollars into the schools. Yet it’s now clearer than ever that none of these nostrums has worked — and a lot of them have made matters worse.

“The public school system as we know it has proved that it cannot fix itself,” Mr. Finn concludes. “It is an ossified government monopoly that functions largely for the benefit of its employees and interest groups rather than that of children and taxpayers. …”

You’re not going to fix that by trying to reduce your “drop-out rate” by bribing more non-performing students to sit at the back of the class in their stocking caps or backward baseball hats, ignoring the proffered course of instruction and instead listening to “rap” on a Borg-like ear appendage while nursing their illegitimate welfare children or texting “OMG” illiteracies to their pals.

Or by condemning the very kids with enough spunk to walk away and “get a life” as soon as their legal term of coercion expires.

Because no education suitable to the populace of a free country can be achieved through compulsion.

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