Zavia Norman of Las Vegas, Nevada, is the mother of three beautiful girls: Rhealyn (13), Laila (11) and Cailyn (6). Her oldest daughter attends a public charter school, and her youngest daughters are attending private school.
Zavia and her family are counting on Education Savings Accounts to come through next year to help cover the cost of her daughters’ education, just like the state promised. However, the ACLU’s recent lawsuit against the program threatens to block the program. Learn more at DropTheSuitNV.org, and sign the petition telling the ACLU to #DropTheSuitNV!
We asked Zavia a few questions about what the promise of Education Savings Accounts means for her family.
Can you tell me a little about your family and your family’s experience with education in Nevada?
My family lives Las Vegas, Nevada. My oldest daughter, Rhealyn, is in middle school and attends a public charter school. And my youngest daughters, Laila and Cailyn, are in elementary school and attend a private school.
Why are Education Savings Accounts important for Nevada families?
Not all schools work for all kids. Now that the state has promised Education Savings Accounts, where a child is educated is not just left to the area you are zoned for or what one’s family can afford. It’s now our decision, as a parents, to choose where our children are going to get an education. We have the chance to custom fit education for our children – whether they’re advanced or have been left behind. Parents want to be able to say at the end of the day, “Hey, we did everything we could do for our children to get them an education.”
Zavia Norman’s family
What led you to choose private school for two daughters and public school for another?
As a mother, my job is to protect my children and make sure they have what they need to thrive. So I’ve chosen the best schools available for each of my girls.
My oldest daughter is really doing well in her public charter school. It’s geared for her. Her teachers are great, the curriculum is challenging and the culture of the middle school fits well with her. She loves it. So I allowed her to remain in the public charter school.
But Laila, my fifth-grader, wasn’t doing well in her public charter school. The school didn’t notify me when she started falling behind in all of her classes. I discovered midyear that she was failing. Even though I worked with her teachers to come up with a plan to help her, she was still too far behind at the end of the year. When her principal and teachers wanted to push her on through to sixth grade, even though she clearly wasn’t ready, I knew we needed to find a better school for Laila.
We applied for Education Savings Accounts, which are set to launch in 2016. Now with the promise of ESAs, Laila and my youngest daughter, Cailyn, attend Anderson Academy of Mathematics and Science, a private school. They both love it, and Laila is already doing 100 percent better! Laila’s confidence and smiles are back!
How will Education Savings Accounts improve your daughters’ education?
My daughters Laila and Cailyn are now attending Anderson Academy of Mathematics and Science, a private school. Their ESAs will help pay for tuition.
At Laila’s new school, they didn’t just pass her through to sixth grade; they found out that she actually needed help. They assessed her before school started and realized she was very weak in her core fifth-grade subjects. So this fall she is starting off in fifth grade, and once she has mastered that level, she will advance to sixth grade in the same year. This made Laila smile for she knows it will take a lot of work.
At her new school, teachers are attentive and communicate well with the parents on a daily basis, school hours are longer, each student has mandatory tutoring and Saturday classes are twice a month. This is the exact environment Laila needs. And Cailyn is also doing exceptionally well in first grade at the same school. They are challenged, and I know they are receiving the best elementary-school education tailored for them.
As a parent, what are your hopes and wishes for your children? What do you want from their K-12 education?
The reason I started looking for a private school was because I wanted to give each of my daughters the best possible option for a great education. I want them to become capable adults – to be able to pursue their dreams, have careers instead of just jobs and not have to struggle with life but have a wonderful purpose-driven life. The basics of that life start with a great foundation of early education.
What would you like to say to those who are trying to take away ESAs from Nevada families?
If the Education Savings Accounts have worked in Arizona and other states, why won’t they work in Nevada? They will work if you give them chance. Nevada parents aren’t not asking for anything free. We’re all working and paying taxes and we should be able to have an option of how our children are educated.
Visit DropTheSuitNV.org to join the coalition
and help protect ESAs for Nevada families!