EDITORIAL: Arizona advances school choice plan, while Nevada program remains in limbo

Democrats in Carson City appear determined to deny Nevada parents more educational options for their children. But lawmakers in our neighbor to the southeast have taken a different approach.

Last week, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill expanding the state’s school choice initiative to all students. The program is similar to the Education Savings Account plan that Nevada lawmakers approved in 2015 but which has yet to be implemented.

Under the Arizona program, any parent may set up Empowerment Scholarship Accounts funded by a portion of the state’s per-pupil education allocation. The accounts may be used to pay for private school tuition. The state’s original choice measure — passed in 2011 — covered only certain students.

“When parents have more choices,” Gov. Ducey said, “kids win.”

Indeed. Not only is increased choice good for consumers, it serves as an impetus for the public schools to improve or risk a student exodus.

While Arizona forges forward, the fate of Nevada’s plan remains uncertain. Last September, the state Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers improperly funded the choice program two years ago, putting it on hold pending a legislative fix. But Democrats now run both the Assembly and state Senate and are politically beholden to the education establishment and teacher union orthodoxy.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, included financing for the Education Savings Accounts in his proposed budget, but a compromise has so far remained elusive. On Tuesday, the governor’s choice bill was forwarded to the Senate Finance Committee, which keeps it alive past a Friday deadline to advance legislation. That offers a glimmer of hope for its survival.

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