Barely two weeks have passed since I wrote that my home state of Georgia should lead the way on school choice by becoming the first state to pass universal education savings accounts (ESAs). Fortunately, for America’s families, we will not have to wait until the 2016 session of the Georgia General Assembly to see the idea become reality. The Nevada General Assembly has beaten Georgia’s politicians to the punch by passing SB 302, giving families the option to use an average of $5,000 per child to pay for private schools through ESAs.
Nevada’s Republican-controlled legislature has, one of its members said, “set a new standard for school choice in our nation.” If Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, as expected, signs the bill, then families all over America will legitimately ask: If Nevada trusts its parents to make the right choice, why can’t my children have the same freedom and opportunity? As Assemblyman Ira Hansen said, when one of the bill’s opponents questioned whether parents are skilled in making the right choices for curriculum and instruction: “I think we need to have more confidence in our parents…” Added Brent Jones: “This session is not just about public education. It’s about better education. School choice has been proven over and over.”
SB 302 is simple in its key provisions:
By my count, @ 30 million children currently attend K-12 public schools in states controlled by Republicans, in addition to Nevada. Total state spending in those 30 states on K-12 education is @$150 billion, which means that all 30 states could adopt their own version of Nevada S.B. 302, giving all 30 million kids annual ESAs of $5,000 each without touching the roughly $200 billion in federal and local spending on public education in those states.
Obviously, such a sea change in public education will not occur overnight. However, we’ve had over 30 years since publication of A Nation at Risk to trust the Education-Industrial Complex to improve academic performance. The so-called “education experts” have failed miserably; it’s time to, as the Nevada representative said—“have more confidence in our parents.”
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