Last year, Nevada adopted a historic Education Savings Account (ESA) program to expand choice and opportunity to children in the Silver State. Now, the program is under attack.
ESAs place state dollars designated for a child’s education into an account that parents can manage to cover the cost of customized learning, including private school tuition, online education, tutoring, therapies for students with disabilities, and dual enrollment. These special accounts offer an entirely flexible approach to education, where the ultimate goal is to maximize each child’s natural learning abilities.
Lawsuits against Nevada’s program have delayed the launch of ESAs. Next week, oral arguments will be presented to the Nevada Supreme Court. These suits are hurting Nevada and the more than 5,000 students who have already applied for this program. Today’s post is by Jen Hainley, member of a military family and mother of a student waiting for an Education Savings Account.
When military families move to a new community, one of the biggest challenges for parents is finding the right learning environment for their children. This can be difficult for any family, but the fact that the average military child will move six to nine times during their K-12 experience makes the need for educational continuity all the more important.
This struggle has been evident in Nevada, where relocating military parents are often faced with choosing between public schools that are overcrowded and underperforming, paying for private school tuition out of their own pocket, or making the sacrifice to homeschool their children. This is just one reason why Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are so important for our state. These accounts would let Nevada parents—including those serving in the military—decide how and where their child is educated.
Nevada lawmakers created Education Savings Accounts in 2015 as a way to allow parents to use the state dollars designated for their child to select the right school or learning opportunities for their kid. These opportunities include everything from private school tuition and online learning programs to individual tutoring and education therapies.
Offering parents this choice isn’t about determining which schools are “good” or “bad.” It’s about giving every parent the ability to create an educational plan that is the best fit for their son or daughter.
My military family has been in Nevada for 10 years, and my son will start first grade this fall. Our school district—Clark County—is one of the largest in the nation, with many schools struggling to offer high-quality learning. These struggles aren’t because of educators. Our teachers work hard and do their very best, yet complex issues such as bureaucratic red tape and overcrowding often undermine their efforts.
All children are different, and the perfect school for one child is not necessarily the best fit for another. In our case, our local public school was not the right learning environment for my son, so we applied for an Education Savings Account to expand our options. However, lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Educate Nevada Now! have stopped this important program from launching. These lawsuits compromise the futures of my son and the more than 5,000 students who have applied for Education Savings Accounts.
My son and every other Nevada student only have one shot at a great K-12 education, and they deserve to learn in an environment where they can thrive. Without ESAs, many will find themselves stranded in schools that fail to meet their needs, just waiting for the chance to attend the school that is the right fit. All the while, precious sand will keep running through their hourglass.
I believe our students and our families deserve better. They deserve a choice. They deserve Education Savings Accounts.
Jen Hainley is mom to Blaise, age 6. She and her husband, a member of the Air Force, live in Las Vegas and plan to use an Education Savings Account to send their son to a private school this fall.
Visit DropTheSuitNV.org to learn how you can support Education Savings Accounts for Nevada’s students.
Thousands of families are waiting for a chance to choose the right education for their children. You can read more of their stories on the #EdFly: