ESA funding a good start, but not enough

  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017

 

For Immediate Release
Contact Michael Schaus, 702-222-0642

LAS VEGAS — Nevada Policy Research Institute Communication Director Michael Schaus responded to the proposed funding solution for Education Savings Accounts announced in Governor Sandoval’s State of the State address:

We are pleased to see the Governor has kept his word to include an ESA funding mechanism in his proposed budget.

It is important to note, however, that his proposed $60 million isn’t even enough to cover the roughly 8,000 hopeful students who have already applied for the program.

Ultimately, the most promising aspect of universal school choice is the innovation and opportunity it promises to usher into Nevada — and, indeed, national — public education.

Under universal ESAs, community groups would have the freedom to begin their own schools custom-designed to serve the students in their own neighborhoods.

Parents would no longer be trapped by income or geography in a system operated by adults who often have no real commitment to meeting their child’s individual learning needs.

Under universal ESAs, a tide of educational innovation would enter the state, as new organizations and groups recognize it as the nation’s educational laboratory.

All these possibilities are profoundly needed, and limiting the Education Savings Accounts program is to significantly constrict what instead should flourish.

So while we are pleased to see that ESAs continue to be at least a nominal priority for the administration, it is imperative that Nevadans demand more than a token gesture to keep this highly promising reform alive and healthy.

Opportunity in education is a growing — but long overdue — trend nationwide. The reason is that the existing, coercion-based public-school district model is not working.

Thus, while most of the rest of the country each year is expanding students’ and parents’ educational-choice options, to see Nevada so drastically cut back on the single most inclusive, promising and expansive choice program in the nation would be disappointing, to say the least.

We hope the Legislature’s Democratic leadership recognizes that the state’s ailing public-education system is in dire need of this new and innovative approach.

If they do, Gov. Sandoval’s proposed $60 million for ESAs would be merely a starting point.

 

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