A state judge Monday put the brakes on Nevada’s education savings accounts (ESAs), granting an injunction sought by opponents who said the program would drain critical funding from Nevada’s public schools and is unconstitutional.
Nevada District Judge James Wilson on Monday issued the injunction, stating in his 16-page ruling Nevada’s constitution requires “the legislature to set apart or assign money to be used to fund the operation of the public schools, to the exclusion of all other purposes.”
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“The court injunction puts into limbo thousands of kids who have applied for and were expecting to take advantage of Nevada’s innovative ESA program. When three out of ten students are not graduating, it is critical that changes be made to the way education is being delivered. Granting parents the ability to choose and customize their child’s education has had huge positive impacts across the country, and this lawsuit only serves to protect a status quo that has produced the third lowest graduation rate in the nation.”
“Now some 4,000 children (and counting) have to wait for a chance to attend schools their families have always dreamed of because a judge saw fit to stand in their way despite numerous court decisions across the country concluding that school choice is a fully legitimate form of public education. In fact, choice is far better than our traditional form, because it takes the state out of interfering with religious beliefs and studies show children in choice programs are more tolerant, fit for self-government, and have higher academic achievement.”
“The ruling by Judge Wilson is disappointing. Education Week ranks Nevada as the worst education system in the nation, yet Judge Wilson rules to protect the system over the needs of the thousands of students who need and deserve a better education.”
“This injunction is horrible news for the thousands of Silver State parents who had hoped to use the ESA program to remove their children from their abysmal public schools. Nevada’s public school system was ranked dead last in the nation by Education Week and can barely get 60 percent of its students to graduate high school in four years. If there were one state in the nation where education customization and choice were most needed, it would be Nevada.
“School choice programs have done wonders for the prospects of thousands and thousands of children across the country, and there is no reason to think they wouldn’t help the children of Nevada in turn. Unfortunately, now those students will have to wait for the state supreme court to right this wrong and allow them the chance for a quality education.”
“The legal basis on which a state judge blocked the Nevada Education Savings Accounts suggests the governor and the legislature might be able to change the funding aspects of this law to ensure that the funding for the ESAs would flow from an account other than those used for public education. This is a work-around that could be enacted soon without further delays.”
“While this is an extremely disappointing decision, I think everyone knew that establishing this ESA program was going to be a dogfight. At least 4,100 parents have signed their children up for this program and now because of the judge’s decision the first round of funding will not go to those families in a few weeks as scheduled. Lawsuits attacking the program continue to be filed. Now we have the Lt. Governor suing to stop the ESA program, the state Attorney General filing a motion to stop the Lt. Governor’s lawsuit. It’s a mess.
“Luckily, state Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) wrote the law properly. School choice advocates, the Institute for Justice, and groups like the Nevada Policy Research Institute clearly have their work cut out for them. However, I am confident the program, modeled after an existing, well-functioning ESA program, will be upheld.”
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