Once the program goes into effect in January, any student who has been in public school for 100 days will have the opportunity to attend private school, receive a home-based education, be tutored, or experience any number of other individualized education environments using a portion of the money the state already spends to educate him or her.
For the first time ever, parents have a true say in how and where their children are educated, and all children have the opportunity to succeed.
But that freedom doesn’t mean much if parents don’t know they have it.
That’s why, even though Nevada has approved universal ESAs, our work at NPRI is far from over. We have committed ourselves to going beyond making policy recommendations, to making sure parents know the ESA program exists and have all the information they need to use one of the $5,100-plus-per-year grants, if they decide that is the best option for their child.
Over the past few months, one of our long-time staff members, Karen Gray, took on a new role as our citizen engagement coordinator to help us spread the word at a grassroots level and meet parents one-on-one.
Today, she is standing with parents at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas to help walk them through the process of offering comment to the Nevada Treasurer, who is holding a public meeting to gather input on how the new ESA program should operate.
And tomorrow, we will hold our first informational meeting for parents to let them know about the opportunities created by this program that’s so new to Nevada. Karen will be joined by administrators at Mountain View Christian Schools — the co-host of tomorrow’s event and a Las Vegas private school that is able to accommodate 1,000 new students immediately — and the lawmaker responsible for introducing ESAs to Nevada, Sen. Scott Hammond.
Since announcing tomorrow’s event, we’ve had numerous inquiries into other informational meetings that will be held in Las Vegas, Reno and other parts of our state. While we don’t have those dates yet, we are actively working with schools and community groups to set up more of these meetings, so that every parent who wants to learn about how ESAs can help their child will be able to do so.
As I’ve explained before, ESAs will fundamentally transform the lives of students and the quality of education in our state. These grants are children’s tickets out of failing schools and into exceptional ones that prepare them for a successful life.
It never made sense to me that we’d take students with unique talents and abilities and stick them into a one-size-fits-all classroom and just hope they do well. For decades, Nevada schools have struggled to graduate students with basic English and math skills, yet for decades, defenders of the status quo have given us nothing but the same educational approach that has failed countless students.
Now that we finally have something different — a solution we at NPRI have long advocated for — let’s get out and spread the word so as many students as possible can start receiving the education they deserve.
Andy Matthews 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.