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Nevada Mom on ESAs: “The days of constant struggle and anxiety are behind us.”

• ExcelinEd

This summer, Nevada became the first state to empower all public school parents with the right to choose their children’s schools through the Nevada Universal Education Savings Account (ESA) Program, set to launch in 2016.

With the promise of this program, Zavia Norman of Las Vegas, Nevada, is sending two of her daughters to private school this year. She 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.

The ACLU’s recent lawsuit against the program threatens to block the program and take decisions away from Nevada parents like Zavia Norman. Visit to learn more, and sign the petition telling the ACLU to #DropTheSuitNV! 

Zavia Norman’s daughters: Laila, Rhealyn, and Cailyn.

Zavia Norman’s daughters: Laila, Rhealyn, and Cailyn.

My daughter Laila is happy when she goes to school. She has a smile when I pick her up. And I know that she is learning and is engaged in her classes while she is away.

These simple blessings may seem trivial to some, but they are precious for my family. They are made possible, in part, because of an Education Savings Account.

Just last school year, things were so different for my sweet girl. Laila was attending a public charter school. Her first years there were great, but things changed.

Laila is a shy, quiet child. So when she didn’t understand something, she stayed silent because she knew her teachers would ask less of her. In fifth grade, this happened until she was slowly left behind in every class.

Meanwhile, the school didn’t notify me until it was too late about her struggles. Midyear, Laila was failing her classes, so I intervened immediately by talking to her teachers and even the school principal. We came up with a plan to help her, but it was too late and not working.

As the end of the school year approached, Laila was far behind.

As a mother, my job is to protect my children and make sure they have what they need to thrive. I knew that if Laila went directly to sixth grade, she would continue to struggle tremendously that year and likely every year after. So I suggested to the principal that we give her the chance to repeat fifth grade so she could enter sixth grade as a confident and capable student.

But her teachers and principal disagreed, saying Laila would be ok in sixth grade even though she was clearly far behind her classmates. The school seemed to blame my child’s lack of focus as the problem. I knew right then that this school was no longer beneficial for my child.

We started looking for a better school, and when Education Savings Accounts became available, our options expanded to better opportunities.

This fall, Laila and my youngest daughter Cailyn, are enrolled at Anderson Academy of Mathematics and Science, a private school. The new school assessed Laila 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.

At Anderson Academy, teachers are attentive and communicate well with parents daily, school hours are longer, each student has mandatory tutoring and Saturday classes are twice a month. This is the exact environment Laila needs. She is already doing 100 percent better.

The tears I cried last school year because I knew Laila was so miserable and the hours I stressed looking for solutions – they weren’t in vain. We have found a school that meets her needs and challenges her to excel.

Now that the days of constant struggle and anxiety are behind us, she is back to the Laila I know. She loves to go to school and is happy. She comes home and starts on her homework immediately, and she seems more optimistic when I drop her off in the mornings. This is what the Education Savings Accounts are doing for me and my family.

And because of Education Savings Accounts, Nevada’s families will have more choices in their children’s education. Now every school is going to have to work hard to give all students the quality education they deserve and the quality education our tax dollars are paying for.

This will improve learning for all students at all levels – the advanced, the struggling and even the quiet ones like my Laila.

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 a private school. Each girl is thriving in her school. image

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and help protect ESAs for Nevada families!


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