Alright, I know you are probably tired and wondering if what you see ahead is a mirage or what. Believe me, I’ve been there, too. But, after a lot of vacuuming, scrubbing, dusting and dishes — I tend to think and recharge when I clean — I put on my resolve to ignore the negative press and see ESAs cross the finish line. There are 8,000 Nevada kiddos clinging to the program. They cannot afford to spend one more day in an educational system that is failing their needs.
Yes, last week’s ESA win was truly a landmark decision, marking a pivotal change to the face of education in this country. It should be celebrated. It should be hailed for the groundbreaking moment that it is. And, NevadaESA.com is forging forward.
But, I admit, I just can’t forget the other, immediate side of the issue — the one where 8,000 Nevada children are still hanging in limbo. This is the side that keeps Nevada’s kiddos — and each of your families — near to my heart. And, I just can’t move beyond that. So, I’m not going to ramble on about how great last week’s ruling is for the country— or even Nevada. Instead, I am just going to say that while some fatigue at this point is natural, depressed energy can instead be directed outward, productively, and parents can carry this program over the finish line. NevadaESA.com is geared up and we’re pushing through that finish line — full speed.
As I said Friday, the funding issue is a legislative fix. After all, appropriations (funding) are what legislatures do. And, there is a possibility to get ESA funding this school year. Now, I’ll be honest, it’s not necessarily easy. It will take some work. It is not a guarantee. But, the possibility does exist.
The first thing which must happen is the Governor needs to put ESA funding on his agenda for the special session. Only the Governor can call for a special session, and he alone can set the agenda. It so happens that Governor Sandoval is currently trying to convene a special session for a Las Vegas stadium. If Sandoval places the ESA matter on the special session agenda, lawmakers will have an opportunity to fund the program now. Governor Sandoval has always been a champion of school choice. It is entirely possible — through Sandoval’s leadership — that ESAs for the 8,000 kids waiting could be funded this school year.
Treasurer Dan Schwartz, whose office administers the ESA program, has already called on Sandoval to include ESAs on a special session agenda. Various lawmakers have come forward publicly requesting ESA on the agenda. Parents across the state are calling to ask the same. At this point, it appears the Governor has not made his decision. But media reports say he’s seriously considering putting it on the special session agenda. So it appears the Governor is listening. That means your voice matters.
If you or your family and friends would like to share your thoughts with Governor Sandoval, you can email him by going to http://gov.nv.gov/Contact/Email-the-Governor/.
Or, you can call him at 775-684-5670. And, while I’m not a big social media person, I hear parents and community members have reached out to him on Twitter at @GovSandoval.
As I said, placing ESA on a special session agenda is no guarantee an appropriation will pass. Most certainly, it is up to lawmakers to introduce and pass a bill. Now, the great thing about our country is that elected officials welcome — even crave — constituent feedback on issues. Once upon a time, a lawmaker from Florida shared with me that she wished she had more input from her constituency. She explained that so often once lawmakers are elected, constituents rarely continue to provide input about how they feel on issues. Officials, she admitted, are then left with only the insight of special interests and lobbyists — that’s all they regularly see and hear. So, when an issue sparks a fire in the constituency, it has a powerful impact on the elected official. I will tell you, that little conversation has stuck with me and drives me to remember: my voice really does make a difference — I just have to express it.
You can contact your lawmakers to let them know you strongly support the ESA program and would like them to do so also. If you enter your address here, it will link you to your Nevada representatives. You will find a directory for state Senators here and the Assembly Members here. You can call and email them to let them know how you feel.
You may also want to contact the legislative leadership and let them know your thoughts.
- Sen. Majority Leader Michael Roberson, Michael.Roberson@sen.state.nv.us, 702-612-6929
- Assembly Speaker John Hambrick, John.Hambrick@asm.state.nv.us, 702-242-8580
- Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson, Paul.Anderson@asm.state.nv.us, 702-410-6645
If ESA gets a place on the agenda, I’ll cover next how you can testify at the legislative hearing. Yes, children can testify at legislative hearings. They can also call Governors and legislators. After all, it is their very lives that hang in the balance.
Before I close out, one quick note. ESA applications closed at 5:00 p.m. on September 30 as scheduled. Applications are scheduled to re-open on November 1. So, don’t be surprised if the Treasurer’s website has removed the application. It is standard practice.