School Choice Week shows why we should be optimistic

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’s been another week of uncertainty for the thousands of families that are depending on Education Savings Accounts for a better education. With the injunction against ESAs still in place, implementation of the nation’s most inclusive school choice program will remain on hold — and the consequences are hurting real people.

 Dr. DaJuane Anderson and his wife, Dr. Tamara Anderson, are feeling the uncertainty that Judge Wilson’s injunction has inflicted on the state in a very personal way.

It has been their dream for nearly a decade to help students who are struggling in underperforming schools. Having created a private school to cater specifically to low-income families, the Andersons saw the ESAs as a necessary step in helping disenfranchised communities.

But now — like thousands of other Nevadans — they are watching and waiting to see if the courts will allow them to move forward with their dream.  

Rita Colon, a single mother who took advantage of ESAs and Tax Scholarships to improve her child’s education, thought Nevada’s new school choice was an answer to a prayer.

Unable to afford alternatives to public school, Rita’s daughter had struggled to survive in the failing system. When she enrolled for an ESA, everything changed. Suddenly she could afford to send her daughter to one of the best schools in the area.

School choice, to Rita, isn’t some obscure policy proposal — it is the key to giving her daughter a brighter future.  

For the families impacted by ESAs, education reform is personal.

As I talk to parents like Rita, and educators like Dr. Anderson, I realize that advocates of school choice are diverse, numerous and passionate.

And next week, that passion will be on full display.

January 24-30 is officially National School Choice Week, and the grassroots support for education reform is almost overwhelming. Across the nation more than 16,000 events, rallies and demonstrations will be held by proponents of school choice. In southern Nevada, thousands of parents and students are expected to show up at the Cashman center in Las Vegas.

The rally will be held at 10:00 am on Tuesday, January 26th, 2016. Public officials, parents and educators will speak about the role choice plays in improving education.

The crowd will be impressive, and the message it sends to Nevada’s leaders will be potent.  

I am optimistic that Rita’s daughter will be able to attend the school she wants, that the Andersons will be able to give the gift of quality education to low-income students, and that school choice will survive in Nevada.

With so many Nevadans passionate about improving their children’s education, it is hard not to be optimistic about the future of ESAs.

Warm regards,

Sharon J. Rossie
NPRI President

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