The Future of the GOP

Guest Writer – Anonymous February 20, 2021

 

For better or for worse, regardless of age, we are all affected by the influences of social media. No more so than younger generations (i.e, Gen Z) who will shape the future of politics. Younger generations use social media as their only political news source. Apps like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, all largely left-leaning platforms, are used as a source of information and news. This news is usually biased, filled with misinformation The goal is to degrade the Republican party. Rather than do more research, many individuals believe what they have read to be true. If this continues, the future of the GOP will be bleak.

When using social media many seem to be unaware that they are only receiving half of the information needed to come to an accurate conclusion. Although many young people believe what they read on social media, they need to learn to question it and learn how to properly do their own research. Luckily, I learned this myself when I was in high school.

I was 17 when I had my first introduction into the world of politics. I was taking an advanced placement government class in high school and I found myself wanting to learn more every day. I left every class period with more questions than I had walked in with. Since the 2016 election was only a few months away, we had many discussions about Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know anything about either candidate, but this may have worked in my favor. Every time we discussed these two candidates, there was a clear bias in who my classmates believed was the better candidate. They appeared to be angry when they would discuss the Republican candidate and greatly questioned his character and integrity. I decided to do my own research rather than take my classmates’ words as facts. I was raised by two conservative parents, but I did not pay attention to this until my senior year of high school. I would come home and ask them questions about what we discussed in class and what they believed. I was shocked to find out how drastically different their views were compared to my classmates. They did not pressure me to believe what they had said but rather to come to my own conclusions through research. After reading a great amount about both candidates, I decided to vote differently than my classmates.

Fear of going against the narrative is what is stopping many who do believe differently, from voicing their opinion. This seems especially true for Republicans. After the 2016 election, it was shocking to see the behavior being displayed on social media, and this has only escalated since. Many are proud to attack those with differing opinions because they believe it is justified. This continues to silence many conservatives because they don’t want to be the target of “cancel culture”. Rather than listen to these hurtful comments, I encourage everyone to speak up and be heard. It can be extremely difficult to go against others’ beliefs, but no voice should be silenced because others decide to shout.

 

Stampeding Over Title IX

By Susan Baldwin  | February 10, 2021

In Ron Knecht’s recent post regarding LGBTQ rights, he explores transgender (T) issues and their rights separately from the other four letters represented in the acronym, LGBQ.

While the majority of heterosexuals have tolerated, passively accepted, or even embraced gender identity rights within the LGBQ community when those rights are limited to their private lives and do not intrude on the majority, President Biden’s latest executive order on gender identity discrimination in athletics has upended years of progress made for female athletes and literally changed the game. The order now calls on schools nationwide to allow transgender athletes to compete in whichever gender they identify with.

In 2015, while it was only a federal recommendation, Washoe County School District adopted Administrative Regulation 5161. This regulation allows transgender students to use the restroom and shower facilities of the opposite sex and participate in intramural and interscholastic competitive sports teams “in a manner consistent with their gender identity.”

The overwhelming consensus on the subject is this is unfair to female athletes, many of whom are speaking out against it. Transgendered boys and men competing in athletic competitions established for girls and women is not a level playing field and counters what Title IX was meant to do in its original intent. Title IX is a federal law within a section of the United States Education Amendments of 1972 that makes it illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of sex in any federally funded activity.

But when the law was written and enacted, sex had binary choices for gender, male and female, and transgender rights were not considered in that context. Now we are faced with the challenge of acknowledging the conflicting rights of transgendered persons against the majority of heterosexual persons.

At the heart of the matter is that outstanding female athletes have no chance of winning against their previously male competitors who typically were ranked much lower in men’s standings in those events.  Knecht states in his post that “even after full biological change to female, including surgery and hormones, persons born as men still have significant advantages in size, bone and muscle mass, strength, etc.” As one girl said, “That unfairness doesn’t go away because of what someone believes about their gender identity.” She makes a good point.

It also makes me wonder how this new order will affect the choices parents make when allowing their daughters to compete in sports. The pandemic will eventually be gone and students will return to the classrooms and athletic endeavors.  How will the new law affect those programs when played out in the real world? Like most things, time will tell.

Knecht also pointed out that the transgender population encompasses 0.03 percent, or three in ten thousand, who claim to have significant transgender tendencies with a ratio of about 9,997:3. In a society built on inclusion and fairness, is this new executive order by the President fair when it ignores the rights of the majority to allow for this new norm? What do you think?

The Silencing of Young Republicans

Written anonymously by a UNR student* 

We are at a turning point in society where we are seeing many young voters turning out to vote in unprecedented numbers. While young voters are becoming a voting force in college, there is underlying hypocrisy between political parties’ beliefs.

I witnessed this first hand when I became a political science major. I have been docked points on essays and other assignments solely due to my conservative beliefs. This in turn has silenced me during my remaining years here at UNR. Colleges today are asking conservative and republican students to choose between a failing grade for speaking out about their beliefs and conforming to the ideology that they put forth.

I have written essays on several issues but since they did not align with my professor’s views I received a lower grade than deserved. I know this because every critique written did not have to do with my skill of writing but instead my political opinions that I had integrated into the paper.  While I attended junior college in California, I had written about the travel ban enacted by President Trump, which my professor solely referred to as the “Muslim ban”. I had also discussed the controversial topic of transgender individuals using the bathroom with which they  identified. On each paper I received remarks stating that my sources were not correct even though I had a clearly formatted work and cited pages at the end of my paper.

Once I transferred to the University of Nevada Reno I had high hopes that different opinions could be discussed and debated maturely. Sadly, I learned early on this was not the case. In my first political science class at UNR, I attempted to try once more in expressing my views in the first paper of the semester. I discussed President Trump’s true views on immigration and his want for a road to citizenship for “dreamers” along with a strong border. Like before, my sources were questioned along with my individual opinion. In subsequent classes, we were able to hold class discussions at a much greater level than before except there only appeared to be one side of the aisle speaking. This is because only the students who fit the narrative felt comfortable enough to speak and express their opinions. Assigned readings in my classes that have anything to do with republicans or conservatives have either “white supremacists” or “racists” in the title.

Students are given such little information about the opposing side (Republicans) that they are only taught how to listen to one side. If this continues in universities our young and future voters will continue to be divided. Students should be able to learn and speak freely without the fear of failure and judgement. Today’s college professors should be required to teach a curriculum that is unbiased and balanced. Only then can students make informed decisions as this country’s future leaders.

*Note. This article written anonymously by a current UNR student because she felt in today’s climate on campus with liberal instructors may do harm to her grades and well-being.

 

WARNING! Making Nevadans pay the nation’s highest average sales tax won’t fix our schools

This article was written by Michael Schaus of Nevada Policy Research Institute and published on March 3, 2020.

https://www.npri.org/commentary/another-billion-dollar-tax-hike-education/

Nevadans deserve an education system that actually works for students, not merely one that takes more hard-earned money from working families.

The Silver State already spends roughly $10,200 per student — an amount comparable to numerous states (and nations) that outperform us academically on a regular basis. And yet, the Clark County Education Association (CCEA) is convinced that a simple billion-dollar tax hike will, somehow, fix all our education woes.

Earlier this year, the CCEA announced plans to lobby for a couple of tax hikes that would generate a whopping $1.4 billion in new revenue for public education. More than $300 million would be generated by a higher gaming tax, with the bulk of the revenue (roughly $1.1 billion) coming from an increase to the state’s sales tax.

If successful, the CCEA’s tax hike would give Nevada the dubious distinction of being home to the nation’s highest average sales tax — higher even than liberal enclaves such as California, New York and Massachusetts.

Which is an important point, given that Nevadans already earn less than residents in those other states, with private sector median earnings ranking 47th out of 50 states after cost of living adjustments — hardly the economic demographic equipped to deal with a billion-dollar sales-tax increase.

Of course, The CCEA tells us such a tradeoff must be made if we expect to “fully fund” public education — an argument that is either rooted in deep ignorance of current education funding levels, or outright dishonesty. After all, it’s not as if Nevada is spending pennies on education when the rest of the nation is spending dollars. Our per-pupil spending levels are perfectly in line with states that have consistently higher levels of academic performance, such as Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Florida.

More importantly, we’ve been down this road before. Since the 1960s, per-pupil funding in Nevada has tripled. Just five years ago, Republican Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law the state’s largest-ever tax hike for the ostensible purpose of “fixing education.” And yet, academic performance continues to disappoint.

Maybe, before asking Nevada families to pony up an extra billion dollars in sales taxes, we should figure out why previous spending increases didn’t deliver any substantive gains.

The truth is, what we’re lacking in public education isn’t “more money.” It’s accountability. Clark County School District, for example, is home to more than 100 schools that have consistently received failing grades from the state. Nearly three-quarters of eighth grade students aren’t proficient in reading, and at least one Clark County school was reported to have a whopping 99 percent of students ranked as “below grade level” in math.

And yet, the district’s official evaluations claim there isn’t a single ineffective principal or administrator in any of the district’s nearly 400 schools. The official teacher evaluations made a similar claim, describing a mere 0.1 percent of the district’s 20,000 teachers as “ineffective.”

It doesn’t take a statistician to realize those evaluations don’t exactly mesh with reality. However, it’s unsurprising. The system is so insulated from accountability, even a school where virtually every student is behind in math somehow receives “effective” ratings for all of its staff.

Clearly, the education establishment isn’t interested in holding itself accountable. And, unfortunately, parents in Nevada have little recourse, given the state’s distinct lack of educational alternatives to district schools.

Florida, on the other hand, is an excellent case-study in how parental choice increases accountability, with dramatic results for academic outcomes. Despite spending less per pupil than 48 other states, Florida’s academic performance was ranked fourth in the nation in 2018. The reason for such impressive performance was simple: Florida has some of the most expansive educational choice programs in the nation — giving many parents the ability to hold their district schools accountable simply by leaving.

In other words, Florida managed to spend less and outperform almost every other state in the nation by passing reforms that ensure students have access to classrooms that suit their needs — rather than simply pouring more money into classrooms that don’t.

Nevada’s education establishment clearly has no interest in such reforms. Instead, it has consistently fought against policies that would empower parents with greater educational choice or increase accountability, while simultaneously fighting for an ever-larger share of tax dollars.

Making Nevadans poorer by thrusting a billion-dollar tax hike on them isn’t going to change what’s wrong with public education in this state.

It’s simply going to make it more expensive.

Reading Scores on National Exam Decline in Half the States

Erica L. Green and Dana Goldstein

The New York TimesOctober 30, 2019

WCSD 84% High School Graduation Rate; 52% Reading  Proficiency

Over half our graduates cannot read; The problem starts in Grammar School

WASHINGTON — The average eighth grade reading score on a nationally representative test declined among public school students in more than half of the states, according to data released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the Education Department.

The dismal results were part of the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “nation’s report card.” The test assesses a sample of fourth and eighth grade students — more than 290,000 in each subject in 2019 — every other year.

“Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest-performing students are doing worse,” Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the center, said in a statement.

Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary

Such findings will inevitably prompt demands for policy change. In a statement, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is championing a $5 billion school choice program, said that the results “must be America’s wake-up call.”

“We can neither excuse them away, nor simply throw more money at the problem,” she said.

That vision is in stark contrast to the one that has emerged in the Democratic presidential primary. All the leading candidates have suggested spending billions more federal dollars on traditional public schools, and two of the front-runners — Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — have proposed slowing the growth of the charter school sector.

The losses on the national exam were steepest for students who had been struggling the most, a segment that is the focus of many school reform policies.

Eighth graders at the bottom 10th percentile of reading achievement lost 6 points on the exam compared with similar students two years ago, while students at the 50th percentile lost 3 points and students at the 90th percentile — top achievers — lost only 1 point.

“Eighth grade is a transitional point in preparing students for success in high school, so it is critical that researchers further explore the declines we are seeing here,” Carr said.

White, black, Hispanic, Native American and multiracial students all lost ground in eighth grade reading, while there was no significant change for Asian students.

Washington, one of 27 cities to participate in a separate analysis of urban school systems, was the only city or state to see significant improvement in eighth grade reading, according to a federal analysis of the data.

This year, 31 states noted a drop of 2 to 7 points in their average eighth grade reading score — which the federal government deemed significant — compared with their performances in 2017. Indiana, New Hampshire and Virginia were the states with the largest declines among eighth graders.

Fourth grade reading scores dropped in 17 states, with New Jersey having the largest decline, 6 points; only one state, Mississippi, improved, the data showed.

States’ average math scores fared considerably better, particularly among fourth graders. Nine states had significant increases in fourth grade math, compared with 2017 numbers, with Mississippi again leading the pack. The eighth grade score in three states improved, while six noted a decline.

While the most recent results are disappointing, trends in student achievement look more positive over the long term. American students have made large gains in math and small gains in reading since 1990, but those improvements began to level out around 2009. There is no consensus among experts as to why.

The Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of large urban school systems, said it saw a hopeful story in the new data. Over the past two decades, students in cities have moved closer to national achievement averages in both math and reading.

“The fact that large city schools have cut their performance gap with the nation in about half is even more remarkable when you consider that our schools have substantially more poor students and English-language learners than the average public school across the nation,” the group said in a statement. Such results “suggest that the nation’s urban public schools are adding substantially more educational value than the average school.”

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is considered a “low stakes” exam, because schools and teachers do not lose funding, pay or autonomy based on how their students perform. Some researchers consider the test the gold-standard measure of learning nationwide, while others argue it is unfair to judge schools using an exam that may have little connection to the material teachers cover in the classroom.

DeVos said the 2019 scores reflected a “student achievement crisis,” where progress had stalled, two out of three children were not proficient readers, and outcomes continued to worsen for the most vulnerable students.

“Every American family needs to open the nation’s report card this year and think about what it means for their child and for our country’s future,” she said. “The results are, frankly, devastating.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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