By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… Last week I incorrectly reported that the CCSD Board of Trustees voted to cut the budget by discontinuing one of the performance zones, thus eliminating the need for a School Associate Superintendent.
The error was not in the fact that they had voted to do so, because they surely did vote to cut the position. The error was my supposition that the position they voted on was a cut that had previously been made.
The previous cut dropped the number of School Associate Superintendents (SAS) and performance zones from 16 to 15. I correctly stated the cut from 16-15 had already been made.
A rather interesting fact is that the zone that was cut was the rural zone. Two distinct rural areas have been vocal in the District’s compliance with the law: Mesquite and Moapa Valley. By cutting the rural zone, those areas are now part of a larger performance zone dominated by inner city and suburban schools. One might wonder if this was not a deliberate move to weaken the position of these two entities.
However, back to the issue at hand: this 4-3 vote to cut an additional School Associate Superintendent and further reduced the number of performance zones from 15-14. Why is this a big deal? Let me see if I can answer that question.
If the District reduces the number of School Associate Superintendents to 14 they will be in violation of NRS 388G (AB 469). Section 22.1 which states: “Each School Associate Superintendent must not be assigned to oversee more than 25 local school precincts.” The cut to 14 SAS would mean that at least some of the SASs would have to oversee 26 or more local school precincts.
This violation of state law is either an error of ignorance or a display of arrogance. In either case the District is once again choosing to violate the law they find repugnant.
If it is ignorance it should be easy to come into compliance with the law as the District can rescind the vote at the next board meeting.
However, if it is arrogance, the District will give its standard reply as it fights the reorganization efforts by the stating: “We read the law differently.” This is a challenge to those who wish to have the law complied with to take them to court.
Agreement or disagreement with the reorganization of the Clark County School District is not the point. I am not sure the world will come to an end if a SAS has to supervise more than 25 local school precincts. The issue is, does a governmental agency have to comply with the law or do they not have to comply? When the government is above the law of the land you no longer have a democratic-republic, you have a dictatorship. We are either a country of laws or we are a county ruled by an elected dictatorship.
One of the earliest descriptions of what surrendering oneself to a dictatorial government means is found in 1 Samuel of the Old Testament of the BIBLE. The people were demanding a king. In response, Samuel said: “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: … He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves… He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage … He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.”
I would settle for a tenth.
Lord Acton, a late 19th Century historian and moralist, narrowed this down to one sentence. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
A little closer to home, Ben Franklin warned future generations of Americans that “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Ben’s contemporary, and maybe the smartest man to ever be President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, wrote: “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Sam Adams, the firebrand of the Revolution stated: “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
A more current President, Ronald Reagan, took up the issue when he stated: “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
One might question all this drama over a simple refusal of a Board of School of Trustees to comply with a rather mundane law. This is not the underlying issue. The underlying issue is the loss of local control of the institutions that affect the day to day lives of our people.
It is not just an issue of school control. We are in a state that is owned and controlled by a government thousands of miles away from us. Day to day decisions are being made for Nevadans by men who can find us only with a GPS. We had a President who, with a pen, set aside thousands of acres of Nevada land as a National Monument only to have another President decide it should be reduced by his action with a pen. I don’t feel qualified to make a statement as to the right or wrong of either decision but making a decisions with a Presidential pen is not the process of a democratic republic.
The confiscation of a rancher’s cattle, under a federal court order, in violation of federal laws is not the act of a representative democracy, it is the act of an elected dictatorship that has set itself above the law of the land.
It is time for Americans to demand leadership that recognizes the fact that America is a country of laws, not of men.
Thought of the week… A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”