Nevada Legislature Creates State’s First School Choice Program

Published April 22, 2015

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) signed into law a bill to create the state’s first private school choice program, after the Nevada State Senate voted 11-9 in April to pass the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program, which will create a business tax credit to fund scholarships. The program cap is $5 million for the first year and $5.5 million the second year. The program will serve students from low-income families, providing $7,755 per year in scholarship funds for students to attend the private school of their parents’ choice.

Increases Educational Freedom

Chantal Lovell, deputy communications director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI), says the tax credit scholarships are a victory for Nevada families.

“Today, NPRI celebrates with families across the state of Nevada over the creation of Opportunity Scholarships in the Silver State,” Lovell told School Reform News. “Opportunity Scholarships open the door for more families to have greater freedom in where their children will be educated, ensuring that more of Nevada’s kids have a chance to succeed.”

Lovell says Nevada needs more school choice.

“The traditional, one-size-fits-all education system has failed Nevada students for decades, so it’s high time we allow children to take advantage of individualized education that can help them meet their full potential,” said Lovell.

“By allowing businesses to donate to a scholarship fund in return for tax credits, Nevada’s companies can help to create the educated workforce they need to make this state better for generations to come,” Lovell said. 

‘Joining the Education Revolution’

“Nevada is on the verge of joining the education revolution by empowering parents with access to more quality educational options,” Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children, said in a press release. “We would like to thank Gov. Brian Sandoval, Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, and all the members of the legislature who stood up to the status quo and embraced educational choice.” 

Lovell says the state needs much more educational choice than just the limited scholarship program, to improve education for all students in Nevada.

“Though Opportunity Scholarships are a great step for Nevada, the work is not over,” Lovell said. “Nevada lawmakers must work to expand school choice by allowing more charter schools to open in the state and creating an Education Savings Account Program so that all children, regardless of their own abilities or their family’s economic status, may access the educational program that best suits their unique needs.”

Heather Kays ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of School Reform News.

Image by Simon Cunningham.

Learn More:

Emma Brown, “Nevada is latest state to pass private school choice program,” Washington Post, April 9, 2015: 

Arianna Prothero, “Nevada Lawmakers Send Private School Choice Bill to Governor,”, April 7, 2015:

“Nevada passes state’s first school choice program,” American Federation for Children, April 13, 2015: