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March 11, 2016

Nevada Has Passed the Most Forward-Thinking, Child-Empowering School Option in America


The state of Nevada has passed the most forward-thinking, child-empowering school choice option in the country, and you know what means: The American Civil Liberties Union and other liberals are doing everything they can to stop it.

Last June of the Nevada Legislature passed a bill creating Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). It wasn’t the first state do so; Arizona, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee also have ESA laws. But Nevada’s ESAs are open to nearly every child and allow more options.

According the state’s Department of Education, any child attending a public or charter school (for the past 100 consecutive school days) may receive a grant equal to 90 percent of what the state is spending on that child in public school—$5,100 for 2016. Low-income families and a child with a disability will get 100 percent, about $5,700.

That money can be used for a private school, home schooling costs, textbooks, tutoring, distance (i.e., online) learning, various fees, transportation, and special instruction or services for children with disabilities, among other things.

And get this: money not spent can grow and be applied toward college expenses.

In short, the ESA money can be used for all types of educational opportunities, letting students develop an educational experience, including the use of new technologies, that suits them.

Public schools are largely stuck in a 19th century educational model that resembles industrial America. Think factories of education.

But education models, like business models, are changing. And many families are eager to embrace other options—including 4,000 in Nevada.

Daysi Lara was one of them, having successfully applied for the program and spent $500 on uniforms, she was eagerly waiting to take her two children to a private Christian school that they never could have afforded on their own.

As the Las Vegas Sun explains: “But on Jan. 11, just as she was about to walk into the school for an errand, she got a call from a friend: The program, meant to give families like Lara’s an alternative to struggling public schools, was put on hold by a state judge in a months-long legal battle.”

At Rundle Elementary, where her kids attended, half of the students don’t speak English and a majority qualifies for the free lunch program. More importantly, the school is failing. It has been “ranked as a two-star school [out of five] by state education officials for nearly five years in a row.”

Lara understandably wants to get her kids in a better place, and she thought she would be able to until a judge stepped in.

The executive director of the Nevada ACLU said when filing the lawsuit last August, “The education savings account law passed this last legislative session tears down the walls separating church and state erected in Nevada’s constitution.”

And the ACLU is tearing down modest-income families’ hope of providing the best options for their children.

The Sun cuts through the high-minded smokescreen and notes the real opponents are “liberals and those who say the program will hurt public schools by eroding their funding and is the first step in dismantling the public school system altogether.”

The real fight is between those who defend failing public schools and those who want a chance at something better. Everywhere school choice goes, liberals, teachers unions and the ACLU follow and do their very best to squash the effort.

Honestly, I don’t know how these people sleep at night.

They habitually complain that kids fleeing terrible public schools rob those schools of funding and make the problems worse. So they try to force kids to stay in underperforming public schools in the often futile hope those schools will improve for everyone.

Misery doesn’t just love company, it demands it.

It reminds me of those who want a single-payer health care system. They often claim that everyone must be in the government-run health care system; otherwise the rich and powerful would opt out, which would reduce the pressure on politicians to ensure the single-payer system works. And so everyone gets poor health care.

Those who fight educational choice would no doubt like failing public schools to do better. But they hate the unequal distribution of learning so much that they are willing to settle for the equal distribution of ignorance.


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