One thing nearly every Nevadan agrees on is the dismal state of our current education system. Specifically, the Clark County School District (CCSD), which is the 5th largest in the nation and has some of the worst academic outcomes.
The establishment’s favorite talking point is that schools are underfunded — however, this complaint rings hollow given massive increases in funding over the last 7 years, beginning with a massive Republican-led tax increase in 2015. Throughout the years, each funding increase has failed to fix the problem for one simple reason: funding alone isn’t what’s plaguing the system.
Superintendent Jara, in his February 2022 “State of the Schools Address,” set a goal for reading proficiency in third grade to a mere 39 percent. Apparently, getting just over one-third of third graders to an acceptable reading level would be an improvement worthy of celebration for public school administrators — but it’s an absolute travesty for the thousands of families who are being failed by a bigotry of low expectations within the system. With a budget of nearly $3 billion for CCSD, taxpayers are simply not getting much for their money and kids are not getting the education they deserve.
This is one of the many reasons parents have been pushing for educational alternatives in this state for almost a decade. Waitlists on charter schools seem to be getting longer by the day as parents clamor for alternatives, and more than 70 percent of Americans believe families should be allowed to take the public funding for their child’s education elsewhere if their local public school isn’t providing adequate education.
That is why Education Freedom for Nevada PAC filed an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court last week challenging a lower court's ruling against our proposed ballot measure. The initiative would allow Nevadans to vote for the creation of Education Freedom Accounts, which would permit families to use a portion of the per pupil funding to pay eligible providers for educational services.
The Supreme Court ruled against our appeal. The right to direct democracy by way of petition has been severely limited by this court's decision which has far reaching ramifications beyond this case. Nevadans who believe that the constitution allows the people to “legislate by initiative” should be concerned with the burden that the court has placed to fund future amendments and restrict the legislature's actions.
The constitution authorizes the Legislature to “provide by law for procedures to facilitate” the people’s power to legislate by initiative. Nev. Const. art. 19, § 5.
In all our time working in parental advocacy, one major theme that has emerged is education freedom. Parents are tired of the status quo approach to education. Parents, not lawmakers, should have the freedom to choose the classroom that best meets their child’s needs.
Our efforts to reverse the district courts’ ruling is about making education a primary issue among parents as we go into a crucial election year and the next legislative session.This petition is about creating an educational choice program in Nevada that is directed by parents.
While this is a temporary setback, it only solidifies our resolve to bring educational freedom to Nevada parents. We will never stop fighting for our kids. We are awaiting the hearing in this court for our statutory initiative and look forward to pleading our case once again.
By Erin Phillips - President of Power2Parent and Chairwoman of Education Freedom Nevada PAC