(Thomas Mitchell) – I am not a legislator and shall always try to do right and be good so that God will not make me one.
The convolutions of the thought process required of lawmakers would drive a man mad were they not already thus by virtue of an expressed willingness to stand for public office.
Take the late unlamented session of the Nevada Legislature during which not much good was accomplished, despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth and utterances of unprintable oaths.
About the only thing of value to surface from that cesspool of conniving and bribery was the education saving account in Senate Bill 302, and they managed to maul that, too.
The Reno paper blithely informs its readers that the state will hand parents $5,000 per child to attend a private school of their choosing, pay for tutoring or even opt for homeschooling.
There is just one little problem with that statement, and that is the wording of the law: “A parent may not establish an education savings account for a child who will be homeschooled …”
Seems pretty clear. But a fellow over at Reason says the words don’t mean what they appear to mean. Here is his explanation:
“Confusingly, the law specifies that ‘A parent may not establish an education savings account for a child who will be homeschooled…’ but this appears to be an attempt to address homeschoolers’ concerns about the state muscling in. The Nevada Homeschool Network objected that:
“the term ‘homeschool’ is legally defined in Nevada whereby parents take full responsibility for the education of the child … NHN is concerned that alternative education funding programs intending to benefit a student with a government controlled ‘choice in education’ will jeopardize homeschool autonomy from government oversight …
“So the law excludes ‘homeschooled’ kids, but it establishes a separate category of ‘Opt-in’ children who are ‘not enrolled full-time in a public or private school and who receives all or a portion of his or her instruction from a participating entity …’ A ‘parent of a child’ can be a ‘participating entity,’ and ESAs can be used to purchase curriculum. That means Nevada kids can be homeschooled with ESAs, they just can’t be ‘homeschooled.’
“I’m happy to clear that up.”
Clear as mud.
Oh yes, before you start planning how to spend your $5,000 education savings account, there is the requirement that the child in question must have “attended a public school for 100 consecutive school days to enter into an agreement …” No sick days allowed?
Here is what the savings account may be used for:
Money deposited in an education savings account must be used only to pay for:
(a) Tuition and fees at a school that is a participating entity in which the child is enrolled;
(b) Textbooks required for a child who enrolls in a school that is a participating entity;
(c) Tutoring or other teaching services provided by a tutor or tutoring facility that is a participating entity;
(d) Tuition and fees for a program of distance education that is a participating entity;
(e) Fees for any national norm-referenced achievement examination, advanced placement or similar examination or standardized examination required for admission to a college or university;
(f) If the child is a pupil with a disability, as that term is defined in NRS 388.440, fees for any special instruction or special services provided to the child;
(g) Tuition and fees at an eligible institution that is a participating entity; (h) Textbooks required for the child at an eligible institution that is a participating entity or to receive instruction from any other participating entity;
(i) Fees for the management of the education savings account, as described in section 10 of this act;
(j) Transportation required for the child to travel to and from a participating entity or any combination of participating entities up to but not to exceed $750 per school year;
(k) Purchasing a curriculum or any supplemental materials required to administer the curriculum.
You can bet some bureaucrat will find a way to throw a monkey wrench in the works.
A version of this column was originally published on Mr. Mitchell’s blog.
Mr. Mitchell publishes the 4TH ST8 Blog at www.4thst8.wordpress.com.