(Sharon Rossie, NPRI) – When Judge James Wilson granted an injunction against Education Savings Accounts on Monday, school choice opponents were overjoyed.
Thousands of Nevadan families who were depending on ESAs to improve their children’s lives, however, were devastated by the decision. For advocates of education reform, the temporary pause in the nation’s most inclusive school choice program demonstrates that we have a lot of work ahead of us in 2016.
Opponents of school choice claim ESAs are unconstitutional because they will “bankrupt” public schools, and destroy public education — but nothing could be further from the truth. As NPRI has explained before, ESAs are structured in such a way that public schools are poised to benefit from the reform.
Students who enroll in ESAs will see educational opportunities that had previously been out of reach, and public school students will benefit from smaller classrooms, more per-student resources and a more competitive climate for educational innovation.
After all, public education shouldn’t be about how much money taxpayers can funnel into a bureaucratic government monopoly that fails students and their parents. For decades, the current government-run public school system has failed to prepare our children for success. As taxpayers, parents and educators too, we deserve better.
At the heart of school choice is a fundamental belief in freedom itself. And more than anything else, that explains why anti-choice activists are so worried about the success of Nevada’s education reform. Defenders of the status quo fear the progress that will be made when parents — not bureaucrats — are put in charge of their child’s educational future.
It’s a fundamental belief in individual opportunity that made school choice a reality in the Silver State, and that same belief is what will keep it alive. Judge Wilson’s injunction against ESAs won’t derail support for reform in Nevada — it will strengthen it.
In the year ahead, I know that school choice advocates will be working tirelessly alongside NPRI to strengthen and defend the nation’s most impressive and inclusive education reform program.
Sharon Rossie is president of Nevada Policy Research Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank that produces and shares ideas and information that empowers people. For more information, please visit www.NPRI.org.