Stocking Stuffers on The Day Before Christmas

December 23, 2015

By Patrick Everson at Las Vegas Review-Journal

Some random thoughts on gifts, hopes and wishes this Christmas Eve:

* The Clark County School District takes its lumps in many areas, often rightly so. However, year in and year out, the holiday season reminds us of a gift provided by some fantastic educators in the district: music directors.

Be they in choral or instrumental programs, these people consistently eschew all the politically correct tripe gripping this nation. Their winter concerts — because hey, you can’t call them Christmas concerts anymore — consistently include overtly religious pieces.

It’s not because these directors and their amazing students are trying to proselytize, nor is it an attempt to flout the separation of church and state. It’s because these pieces are incredible compositions that challenge the students, who stand and deliver in a way that stirs the soul of the audience — even the nonreligious among them.

And it’s not just limited to the holiday season and individual schools. The CCSD Honor Choirs/Bands and the Nevada All-State Choirs/Bands don’t shy away from such music either. It’s a credit to the individual school directors and to the district music administrators, who recognize great music, regardless of the source.

* Keeping it within the K-12 realm, here’s a gift that the city of Henderson and the residents of Sun City MacDonald Ranch should consider: allowing Coral Academy of Science to take over those long-vacant buildings at the corner of Horizon Ridge Road and Green Valley Parkway.

In April, the charter school operator backed off a plan to open a fourth campus, which would have housed 1,500 third- through eighth-graders. The city assisted Coral Academy in finding the site, but MacDonald Ranch residents vehemently opposed it. Some concerns were legitimate, while others were totally outlandish, such as kids having access to alcohol at the nearby CVS.

The school-crowding issue will require creative ideas, including allowing schools in nontraditional settings. And it will require cooperation from everybody. The Coral Academy project was one way to ease enrollment pressure at no capital expense to taxpayers. That’s something even MacDonald Ranch retirees should appreciate.

* Jumping to the college level, UNLV president Len Jessup and UNR president Marc Johnson should accept a gracious gift from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: an offer to help put both schools in compliance with the First Amendment. FIRE rates colleges based on their commitment to free speech; for years, UNLV and UNR had red-light ratings and only recently moved to yellow.

The Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents should demand that these universities accept the offer to get right with the First Amendment, and ideally drop their speech codes altogether.

* OK, enough on schools. How about some politics? Several Republican presidential candidates need to just accept the fact that they are done. Give us a gift, get off the stage, and bring an end to these ridiculous nine-contestant debate circuses.

* The Democratic National Committee, much like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, needs the gift of courage. Scheduling two of three debates thus far on Saturday nights, including the Saturday before Christmas, displays nothing more than that Democrats do not want people to see their candidates — particularly the front-runner.

* And finally, something for everybody to consider: In recent years, there’s been a proliferation of gibberish about how to handle a crazy Republican uncle at your holiday dinner. The Democratic Party has gone so far as to create a website called YourRepublicanUncle.com. Of course, it couldn’t be that the nephew/niece in this equation is awash in the liberal PC culture of college campuses, right?

Regardless, rather than finding ways to engage in partisan bickering, how about remembering this instead: It’s the holidays. Count your blessings that you’re breaking bread with family who love you enough to want you at the table. Leave the politics off the dinner menu.

Oh, and Merry Christmas! (It’s my column. I can say that.)