Nevada High Court Considers Biggest School Choice Program Ever
School Choice Weekly #147
On Friday, the Nevada Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the state’s education savings account program, which has never gone into effect because of the lawsuit. If/when it’s implemented, the program would apply to nearly all K–12 children in the state.
That makes it both the nation’s largest school choice plan and a significant test for the relatively new concept of education savings accounts (ESAs), which allow parents to divide up their child’s state education dollars among different education providers rather than turning it all over to one school. The court’s decision will affect 18 other states considering similar legislation.
RedefineED has a wrapup highlighting main points in the oral arguments:
It would be unconstitutional for the state simply to hand taxpayer money directly to religious institutions[, argued school choice attorney Paul Clement]. But it can create a health savings account program that helps patients to pay for surgery at a Catholic hospital. It can offer a daycare subsidy that some parents might use at parochial schools. And the government can send firefighters to battle blazes that endanger church buildings.
Similarly, Clement argued, the state created ESAs to provide an important public service -- education. If some parents used them to educate their children in religious schools, that wouldn’t mean the government was propping up religious institutions in violation of the state constitution.
Tim Keller, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which has intervened in the case on behalf parents who want to access ESAs, reinforced that point. He argued his clients were more than “inconsequential conduits used by the state to funnel money to religious institutions.”
‘Parents make genuine, independent choices under this program,’ he said. ‘The state provides them with flexible education spending accounts, and it is the parents who decide where and how to spend their monies.’
Hispanics for School Choice submitted an amicus brief.
SOURCE: Cato Institute, Las Vegas Review-Journal, RedefineED, Watchdog.org
IN THIS ISSUE:
- LOUISIANA: An anti-school-choice governor breaks his word to voters to deprive 500 children of the opportunity to attend schools of choice this fall, just a few weeks before schools begin.
- MISSISSIPPI: Nearly twice as many special-needs children applied to receive education savings accounts than were able to secure an available slot this year, meaning 129 children missed out. And in response to a liberal interest group’s lawsuit aiming to stop charter schools, a group of parents rallied to say their kids need the better options charters provide.
- OHIO: Why a recent study that found voucher students perform worse than public-school peers may have been comparing apples and oranges, and was not able to include relevant data.
- MICHIGAN: Why education philanthropists are steering clear of Detroit, despite its deep and obvious need.
- TEXAS: An all-boys charter school pushes poor, minority children to perform at high levels but takes on criticism and legal complaints from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.
- NEWS COVERAGE: Between 2005 and 2015, press coverage of charter schools grew increasingly negative and saturated with opinion pieces, finds a new analysis.
- INDIANA: Public schools begin marketing campaigns to bring back students who have opted for private and charter schools.
- MISSOURI: Here’s why Missouri needs to create education savings accounts.
- COLORADO: The state board of education has allowed two school districts to offer online classes to others in the state.
- NEW YORK: New state numbers show one-fifth of children opted out of state tests this spring, a number similar to last year’s.
- EMOTIONS: A coalition of eight states is working to create standards for schoolchildren’s thoughts, relationships, expressions, and feelings.
- NORTH DAKOTA: Several state-convened committees have put out a new draft of math and English standards to replace Common Core. The plan will eventually also require dropping national Common Core tests.
- TEXAS: After a year fraught with testing troubles, a state panel has recommended heading towards computer-adaptive testing similar to that used, to poor effect, by the disintegrating national Common Core tests.
- ESSA: This article contains a good overview of the main points of the new major federal education law, on which the regulations are currently being written. Cleveland’s superintendent says of the draft regulations: “It feels like [USDOE] is trying to continue to have a heavy hand in ESSA, which is not what was envisioned in the legislation.” ESSA regulations also display the Democratic Party’s rifts on education.
- ADVANCED PLACEMENT: As states spend millions shoving more kids into Advanced Placement classes in an effort to help students do well in college, a new study finds their efforts and the taxpayer money spent may all be in vain because students who complete AP classes appear to do no better in college.
- PEARSON: A drop in testing sales despite a company-wide restructuring sent stocks for this global testing and curriculum behemoth into a steep decline this week. Pearson has been helping deliver national Common Core tests, which have been a technical disaster and may have undermined confidence enough to influence other testing contracts.
- MARYLAND: Long-time education reformer and all-around interesting thinker Andy Smarick was voted unanimously into the presidency of the state education board.
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