CARSON CITY — Several hundred students, parents, lawmakers and school choice advocates braved chilly temperatures here Wednesday to celebrate National School Choice Week.
Students played music, danced and cheered in the open space next to the Legislative Building, where school choice in Nevada will face a real test this year.
The building is where, beginning Feb. 6, state lawmakers will meet and consider a controversial proposal to put $60 million toward Education Savings Accounts. If approved, the money would provide about $5,100 to parents to send their children to private schools, including religious schools.
The funding is a top priority for Gov. Brian Sandoval, who issued a proclamation for the school choice celebration.
Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, the author of the 2015 ESA bill, told the crowd that school choice, whether it be home schooling, charter schools, private schools or ESAs, will become a reality across the country.
But it won’t happen without the continued hard work of those seeking educational options for children, he said.
“Educational choice is going to come.” he said. “It will be here.”
Speakers called the school choice fight the civil rights movement of the current generation.
Event planners included the Nevada Policy Research Institute, Nevada Charter School Association, LIBRE Initiative, Oasis Academy, RISE Resource Center, Coral Academy of Science and Academica Nevada.
The event is held every January but has special significance in Nevada this year because of the effort to fund the ESA program, called a voucher program by critics. The Nevada Supreme Court upheld the law but said the original funding plan was unconstitutional.
Supporters this session will work to secure funding that could help thousands of parents send their children to private schools. At least 8,000 parents have applied for the program but must wait on the funding debate in the Legislature.
A final decision on ESA funding won’t likely occur until late May.
Contact Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.