Mikayla’s story

Andy Matthews

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews 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.

Mikayla's story

Will spending more increase student achievement in Nevada?

That’s the working assumption of many Nevada legislators. For instance, after Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis dropped his attempt to raise Nevada’s job-killing payroll tax on Tuesday, Senate Democrats took to the floor to complain that Nevada doesn’t spend enough on education and hence legislators are “kicking the can down the road again.”

Now it’s easy to refute the idea that spending more will increase student achievement using numbers, and NPRI’s done so many times.

And while those numbers are essential, today I’d like to share a story with you from a mother named Patricia about her daughter, Mikayla. Her story demonstrates that changing who spends Nevada’s education dollars, instead of changing how much we spend, is the key to improving student achievement.

Patricia lives in Indiana, which began a Choice Scholarship Program in 2011. Here’s her family’s story in her own words:

The Choice Scholarship Program has affected my daughter, Mikayla, positively in every aspect of her life.

Have you heard the phrase, “What a difference a day makes?” I’m modifying that to, “What a difference the Choice Scholarship Program makes!”

Mikayla is in seventh grade this year at Trinity Lutheran School in Hobart. She has struggled both academically and behaviorally since about the fourth grade. Before the start of her sixth grade year, I checked out Trinity because I knew she (we) needed a different atmosphere. However, although I was very interested, the cost of tuition prevented me from even considering sending her there since my husband has been unemployed for two and a half years. So, I resigned and braced myself for her first year in middle school.

Only by the grace of God did we make it through last year. For her last term in sixth grade she was barely getting by academically. In contrast, on her October mid-term grades report from Trinity Lutheran, she received an A+, two As, one B+ and four Bs! When Mikayla brought home her grades, I could not stop looking at them. We even invited my sister over for the unveiling of her report card.

Not only has the voucher program affected her grades, but her whole attitude. Last year, Mikayla dreaded going to school. Now, she can’t wait to go to school; she even comments on the weekend that she wishes it were a school day.

Last year, Mikayla was bullied and didn’t want to be involved in any extracurricular school activities. This year, she jumped right in and played on the soccer team and is in the hand bell choir.

Our children are our future. How could anyone oppose changing the life of a child, a family and our world? Thank you to all who supported this program from the bottom of my heart!

Patricia Siroky

How many thousands of Mikaylas are there in Nevada’s public school system? Spending more won’t help them. Changing who spends the money will.

Have a great Memorial Day and thank you to our veterans and their families. We wouldn’t be here without your sacrifices.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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