I took a month off from writing my weekly column to work with a group of parents and teachers to complete a charter school application.
The application was for a charter school to start in August 2013. The proposal focused on the arts and is called "The Nevada Performance Academy." If the application is successful, the school will be available for students who have an interest in the arts (grades 7-12). We'll know in a few weeks if we're successful.
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Now that the Republicans and Democrats have had their turn in the spotlight, it appears to me that there is considerable misunderstanding about how our system of government works, especially among conservatives.
Even fifth- and sixth-graders are taught about local, state and federal governments. If well taught, they learn about the rule of law, separation of powers, constitutional protections, representative government, protection of civil rights, and all the other regulatory protections guaranteed by our system of government at local, state and federal levels.
Although a few of the conventioneers, like Ann Romney who spoke powerfully about her husband, most at the Tampa gathering last week didn't have a clue about the contribution of government to the uniqueness of this nation.
They thought business was the solution and it would just take a businessman to make government work. That was the major fabrication among the many promulgated for three days during the Republican convention.
It is our system of government and our belief in it that makes our young country unique, exceptional. It is not our system of business or the manipulation of the free market.
The Chinese have demonstrated their skill in business and market manipulation in just a short time. They are, however, a long way from achieving our system of government values.
Some local wag declared emphatically there would be no U.S. government without business. Absurd. We need successful business and industry to generate revenues, but without strong government - rule of law, effective regulatory functions (including skilled regulators), constitutional separation of powers - the nation will decline into an oligarchy.
An oligarchy equates a concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few. We had this before in the 19th century with the "Robber Barons." Extreme wealth was concentrated among a few. Nothing trickled down to the workers.
Our system is unique, and it works (not perfectly, not always) because of its constitutional protections for all, not because of a few who value only profits.
Big business is not a solution to our national problems. Big business needs to be regulated and monitored (by government), or it will devour all of us.
The uniqueness that is America is in the people who believe their government is constituted to help them in good times and bad times. That is precisely what President Obama believes. Gov. Romney, not so much.
The anti-government, anti-tax proponents who have so little understanding of how our system of government actually works are determined to fundamentally change the system.
They attack the size of government at all levels. They complain about spending and debt. They are constantly whining about taxes and government programs at all levels without consideration to effectiveness and need for specific citizen services.
Beware of these folks. They are not looking out for our interests. They are the voices of the past, not the rainbow spirit of the future.
• Eugene T. Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.