It’s a turkey, no matter how one looks at it – the proposal for parents to be able to grab public money for “private” education in the state of Nevada and run off to do heaven only knows what with it. And, now the case comes to the courts. [LVRJ]
“The law passed by the Republican-controlled 2015 Legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval allows parents to set up education savings accounts to receive a portion of state per-pupil funding and use the money, about $5,100 annually, to send their children to private school or pay for other educational options. The program, administered by the state treasurer’s office, has received more than 6,000 applications.
A group of parents sued in Carson City, arguing it will illegally divert money from public schools. A Carson City judge in January agreed and issued an injunction.
The ACLU challenged the law on separate grounds, claiming it violates a constitutional prohibition against using money for sectarian purposes. A Clark County judge last month rejected those arguments and upheld the law.” [LVRJ]
I’m not at all sure why the ACLU case didn’t have a better outcome, because the Nevada Constitution is very clear about prohibiting public funds for sectarian use. Additionally, I’m a bit fogged about why the ultra-conservatives in Nevada would want to allow funds for potentially radical religious instruction of any stripe. There’s a question here – would these same people be so supportive if the private school receiving the money were, say, a madrasah?
And, it’s notable that we aren’t talking about peanuts here. If 6,000 families each grab $5,100 every year from taxpayer funds for private schooling, then we’re speaking of some $30,600,000, or $61,200,000 for the biennium.
If the idea is to bankrupt public education and then privatize the remnants, this is a perfect formula. Complain that the public schools are not performing to some artificially established standard, then promote the creation of private schools, followed hard by the transfer of funds away from public education into those private “reformers,” and perpetuate the cycle of under-funded public schools trying to compete with corporation sponsored private ones. There’s no way for the public schools to win, and that’s precisely what the privatizers have in mind.
Stay tuned, the Nevada Supreme Court will hear the case on July 29, 2016.