Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gov. Sandoval Vetoes Close Enuf! Bill (AB456)

The Carson City press was understandably consumed yesterday with the details of the monumental budget deal that will end this legislative session on time, so it's only now that the Review-Journal is reporting what I Tweeted yesterday: Gov. Brian Sandoval yesterday vetoed the Close Enuf! bill. This was the odious measure, aka AB 456, was backed by every single Democrat that would have allowed some Nevada high school kids to graduate without passing all four of the required bare-minimum competency exams. The R-J's Ed Vogel wrote today that there's not enough State Senate support to override the veto, and thank goodness for that.

In his veto message, Sandoval explained:

"Although this bill may allow more students to graduate from high school, it represents diminished expectations for our students and lower standards for obtaining a high school diploma in Nevada. In my State of the State address, I said that our education system emphasizes too many of the wrong things. AB456 is another example of this paradigm and would send the wrong message to our students. I am committed to improving our education system and enhancing student achievement. Because this bill provides a way to hide or ignore a student's achievement problems rather than fix it, I veto it."

This outcome is especially satisfying because a source in Sandoval's office emailed me yesterday to tell me about the veto and to let me the governor had read my Las Vegas Weekly column vivisecting this legislation. In fact, I'm told, Sandoval was showing the piece to his aides and not the other way around.

I still baffle as to how any lawmaker can defend voting for this and still claim to be concerned about education.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I don't cover state-level politics much because, by and large, there's little national interest. The budget drama going on in Carson City now is de rigeur across the nation, albeit with a few Nevada touches like gaming and mining. I have done pieces in recent weeks on the Google driverless cars law (AB511), which passed easily in the Assembly and is now en route to the Senate, and the effort to weaken the state's smoking ban. But this one awaiting Gov. Sandoval's signature or veto, AB 456, simply knocked me out. Judging from the column's Facebook/Twitter pickup, I'm not alone in being appalled, either. Here goes. -sf

Why AB 456 is a huge middle finger to Nevada’s education system
Don’t know much about math? Science? Reading? Don’t worry about it


All you need to know about why Gov. Brian Sandoval must veto AB 456 you can learn from this parlor game my partner and I play in social company.

For one miserable semester in 2004, I tried to teach journalism at UNLV, except that almost every student was so functionally illiterate I actually taught remedial English. On election night that year, each student received unique orders to chat up a certain demographic or to ask about certain topics at political gatherings. The girl assigned to ask foreign policy questions rendered a story that included this “word”: Alkita.

It took me only a moment to decipher, but over cocktails, friends offer many answers. A breed of dog? No. A battery part? No. Someone’s name? No.

That, dear readers, was how this Las Vegas child spells the name of America’s worst enemy, Al Qaeda. How many kids in 1943, pray tell, wrote about the nahceez?

The best part: She later begged me for a B to maintain her Millennium Scholarship. Which is to say, this girl who couldn’t distinguish a comma from a Cadillac graduated a Nevada high school with at least a B average to qualify for that. When I refused, she growled at me, “All my other teachers say I’m a great writer.”

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com