Hello all!

Karen Gray

Hello all,

Let me start by saying, there has been no decision, yet. And, I’m sorry if I made your heart skip a beat. But, it’s been a few weeks and I wanted to check in, provide the latest news with Nevada’s educational choice programs and give a little run down of July’s awesome ESA rally.

But first, I want to extend my heartfelt “thank you!” to all the parents, children and ESA supporters who came out to the ESA rally at the courthouse. I also want to thank everyone who showed up to the Guinn Room at the Capitol and for the many, many good wishes and prayers for a successful rally and favorable decision! Nevada parents rock!

While we are all on pins and needles awaiting the ESA court decisions, there are a few things to update. First, ESA enrollment is currently OPEN.

  • Applications in English and Spanish can be found onNevadaESA.com or the Treasurer’s website. You will find a direct link to the applications here.
  • Applications will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. on September 30. Remember, applications must be stamped “received” in the hands of the treasury by the deadline. In the mail or postmarked is not sufficient.
  • Mail or hand deliver your applications to State of Nevada Treasurer’s Office C/O Grant Hewitt, 101 N. Carson Street, Suite 4, Carson City, Nevada 89701. Or, you can hand deliver applications to the Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Office at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas located at 555 Washington Ave.
  • Remember, five- and six-year-olds and active duty military families are exempt from the 100 day eligibility requirement
  • Do not send in your supporting documents. You will be asked to upload them once the injunction is lifted (I have faith).

In other education-choice news, tax scholarship (AB 165) acceptance letters for this school year have been mailed out to families. Congratulations to all! This year, the program is capped at $5.5 million. And, remember, the state Department of Education has confirmed families can combine the tax scholarship with the ESA. That’s a possibility of over $13,000 to help families pay for private school tuition.

Two new scholarship granting organizations are in Nevada. They are holding off on funding until the 2017-18 school year. However, be sure to watch their websites for application information.

The ACSI Children Education Fund will open applications September 1. So be sure to get your applications in early. Unfortunately, America’s Scholarship Konnection, or ASK, which was gearing up to award scholarships later this school year, will also be holding off until next year. However, the organization says it is excited to come to Nevada and looks forward to serving Nevada families. So, watch the ASK website for applications.

Now to the news that still has me giddy. The ESA rally at the courthouse was AH-MAZING! There must have been at least 300 people rallying support for ESA. We are getting pictures and video up onNevadaESA.com. If you have any pictures you want to share, you can email them to me at kg@npri.org. We would love to have pictures of the folks in Carson City! I hear it was quite full in the Guinn Room.

The ESA rally speakers were phenomenal. Their stories cut to the core of why ESAs are so badly needed in Nevada.

Shannon shared an all too familiar story of school officials urging her to medicate her son, rather than addressing his disability needs. As a special education advocate for nearly 10 years, it was disheartening to hear that such archaic practices are still implemented in Nevada public schools.

We also heard from Sgt. Delk and Jen Hanely, who shared their experiences of the educational sacrifices military families make while serving our country. Not only must military families uproot their children from friends and school quite often, but they also have no say in the public education system their children then attend. Whether that system is ranked Number 1 or — like Nevada — Number 49, their children attend schools where the families are stationed. Education Savings Accounts give Nevada military families options and opportunities otherthan 49th.

There wasn’t a dry eye — including my own — when Rita told the story of her journey. Zoned for a 5-Star Exemplary School, Rita thought her daughter would receive a top-notch education. But school officials failed to provide any English Language Learner (ELL) programs necessary to provide her young kindergartener with a solid educational foundation. Rita, a single working mother and UNLV student, was awarded a tax scholarship and applied for the ESA. Despite the opposition’s claims that families like Rita’s will not be accepted into Nevada’s elite private schools, Rita’s daughter was accepted into — not one, but, two — premier private schools.

And young Taliyah Wilson — a 14-year-old student embarking on her high school career in a long-time failing high school — hit to the heart of why ESAs are so important when she shared her fears of becoming just another statistic, just another number in an already overcrowded, failing system. Chained by her zip code to a school that’s been ranked as failing for at least 10 years, Taliyah asked the Justices to please allow the opportunity for kids like her to attend a school of their choice. With the ESA, Taliyah intends to go to a private school which will “focus on [her] gifts and talents.” You can read Taliyah’s story and that of other Nevada families here.

Okay, that’s a long read. But, I just had to share the highlights of the ESA rally. It truly was an amazing event — inspirational!