An update on the ESAs

Sharon Rossie

Every week, NPRI President Sharon Rossie writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

It might not seem like it for the thousands of families stuck in lawsuit limbo, but the legal defense of Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts is actually making progress.

The Nevada Supreme Court has agreed to expedite the appeal aimed at lifting the injunction against ESAs, paving the way for a quick resolution.

This is good news for the 4,100 families that have already enrolled in the program, not to mention the thousands more who planned to do so this year.

By sometime in mid-April the Supreme Court will determine whether or not it will hear oral arguments in the case. After that, the “real” court battle begins.

Of course, that won’t be quite the end of it.

The injunction was issued in the Lopez case, which was the lawsuit launched by Educate Nevada Now. Arguing that state per-pupil funding should be used exclusively for government-run public schools, the lawsuit aims to derail the funding mechanism for ESAs.

Educate Nevada Now isn’t the only group trying to defend the failed status quo of public education in Nevada. The ACLU currently has its own lawsuit, alleging that because parents will be able to send their children to religious private schools with the help of ESAs, the reform violates the constitution.

Both lawsuits depend heavily on the belief that bureaucrats and politicians are better equipped than parents to make decisions about the educational needs of students. But that’s the system we already have — and it’s simply not working.

For decades Nevada’s students have suffered from a woefully underperforming school system — in fact, the Silver State is regularly ranked dead last in national studies on academic performance. Nearly 40 percent of fourth graders are functionally illiterate. Graduation rates are regrettably low. And even the defenders of the status quo routinely identify the plague of underperforming schools throughout the state.

So why keep things the same?

The truth is, ESAs will benefit public schools, and reveal Nevada as the nation’s leader in educational innovation. Moreover, it will return authority to the individuals most likely to recognize the specific needs of students: their parents.

Nevadans seem to understand this. Popularity for the reform continues to grow on a daily basis. Parents have flocked to sign the NevadaESA petition aimed at saving the reform, and many more have been sending in ESA applications to the Treasurer’s office in anticipation of the injunction being lifted.

The lawsuits attempting to block true education reform in Nevada may not yet be dead, but progress is being made to defend the most inclusive educational choice program in the nation.

As Nevada’s leader for educational reform, we at NPRI are working tirelessly to protect and expand this groundbreaking opportunity.

And I’m looking forward to our success.

Warm regards,

Sharon J. Rossie
NPRI President

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