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. These suits are hurting Nevada and the more than 5,000 students who have already applied for this program. Today’s post is by Karla Ramos, mother of a Nevada student waiting for an Education Savings Account.
My five-year-old son Brandon is smart and curious. He’s constantly learning, and that worries me sometimes.
Last year, Brandon was in Kindergarten at our local public school. He came home crying one day saying he didn’t want to go back to school because a kid had punched him. Later that year I got a call from the nurse’s office because my son had been bit.
When Brandon complained about the first incident, the teacher told him she “didn’t want to hear it.” When I complained about the second, my words fell on deaf ears. These and other experiences left me very concerned.
Like I said, Brandon is constantly learning—from me, his teachers and his peers. The last thing I want him to think is that what he has experienced at school is an acceptable way to be treated or to act toward others. He has his whole life ahead of him, and what he learns in elementary school will shape his future. I need to know that his teachers are reinforcing the importance of respecting others, just like we do at home.
And this is why I’ve applied for an Education Savings Account for my son. An Education Savings Account would allow me to access the state funding designated for Brandon’s education and use those dollars to select the right learning environment for him—something beyond our local public school.
Nevada lawmakers created Education Savings Accounts last year to offer parents, like me, the chance to choose the best education option for their children. Since then, the ACLU and Educate Nevada Now! have filed lawsuits against the program. Their actions have delayed—and could destroy—Nevada families’ access to a better education.
I can hardly believe that anyone would look at a child and deny them the chance to have a better future by forcing them to return to a school that doesn’t meet their needs. But that’s exactly what those who are challenging the Education Savings Accounts are doing.
This summer, we will wait anxiously to see if the courts will side with the more than 5,000 families who are counting on Education Savings Accounts. In the meantime, we are optimistically preparing to use Brandon’s ESA to send him to American Heritage Academy, a private school, this fall.
As soon as I knew our local public school wasn’t the right fit for my son, I started visiting alternative schools. In each school, I made sure to learn how they deal with inappropriate behavior. I did this for two reasons: first, I want my son in a school where rules are important and need to be followed, and second, I need to know he will be safe and respected.
American Heritage Academy offers this environment, smaller classes, strong academics and great athletic opportunities. The school will be our first choice if the state makes good on its promise to provide Education Savings Accounts to Nevada families.
Brandon’s journey to becoming a kind, educated, productive adult begins today with a strong educational foundation. I hope Nevada will give me and thousands of other parents in our state the option to choose the right school for our children.
Karla Ramos lives in Las Vegas and is mom to Brandon, age 5, and Avila, age 1. She plans to use an Education Savings Account to send her oldest son to first grade at a private school this fall.
Visit DropTheSuitNV.org to learn how you can support Education Savings Accounts for Nevada’s students.