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May 25, 2017

It’s getting to be crunch time!

It’s getting to be crunch time!

Friends, the 2017 legislative session is winding down. That means things are ramping up fast and furious in Carson City!

Remember, you can turn in your testimony for Governor Sandoval’s ESA funding bill, SB506 — now!

Email your testimony and all documents in support of your testimony to the Senate Finance Committee at SenFIN@sen.state.nv.us.

Committee staff will save the emails and enter them into the record under public comment when SB506 goes to hearing.  To be entered into the record under the SB506 line item, testimony must be presented in person.

When submitting your testimony you can also request your testimony be distributed to each committee member. However, it is important to note that it is the sole discretion of Chairwoman Senator Joyce Woodhouse whether to allow distribution or not.

Staff advised that you should ask to be notified of the chairwoman’s decision.

Another alternative — this is my personal preference — is to email each committee member separately and directly.  It is my experience that emails are better received if sent as individual emails, rather than in a group, and, are addressed to the specific committee member or lawmaker.

Here’s a link to contact information for each member of the Senate Finance Committee.

But, no matter how you seek to distribute your message, be sure to send your testimony to SenFIN@sen.state.nv.us  and ask for it be placed into the historical record for SB506.

Friends, make no mistake, the unions and folks opposing ESA will stop at nothing to prevent you from having control over your child’s education. In fact, I’ve heard stories of anti-ESA billboards up north and postcard mailers to southern Nevada households. Don’t let that intimidate you.  Instead, use it to power your drive!

You see, currently, they control education in Nevada. Did you know that, collectively, Nevada teacher union locals donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to political campaigns each cycle?

In fact, just one simple search of campaign reports showed Joyce Woodhouse received nearly $10,000 from the Nevada State Education Association this political cycle.  Friends, that was a simple search for one lawmaker and one donor. It doesn’t include all the spin-off donations through various other related groups and PACs associated with NSEA.  Tracking all that makes my brain actually hurt.

While the unions and other anti-ESA groups have money to further their political agendas, you have the power!  That’s right, Parent Power!

Friends, nothing beats the power of parents.  I promise, the opposition knows that.

That’s why they have to raise billboards and send mailers. They know the parents of those 8,000 children clinging to ESA don’t see ESA as Republican vs Democrat, or public vs private school, or rich vs poor or any of the other propaganda the opposition is selling.  The opposition knows you see ESA for what it is — opportunity, future success for your children and freedom to educate your child in the way you know is best.

ESA opponents know there is no greater advocate for children than parents fighting like mother bears protecting their cubs.  In fact, they fear this.

The reality the opposition faces is that lawmakers are in a political dilemma — actually, a trilemma.  As elected politicians, they want to 1) keep all that union special-interest money flowing, 2) balance their own consciences (yes, they have them) and 3) satisfy the folks who actually vote them in —or out — of office.

So, friends, don’t let the opposition’s money, propaganda or political grandstanding intimidate you. You have Parent Power!

You must continue to fight for your children!

Recently, Governor Sandoval gave lawmakers an ultimatum — fund ESA or everything is getting vetoed.  So, believe me, ESAs are now in discussion.  In fact, Woodhouse recently stated SB506 will have a hearing in Senate Finance.  You may recall, Democratic leadership announced long ago that there would be no hearing for Senator Hammond’s ESA bill — an announcement that resulted in his ESA fix being killed in the Senate Education Committee.

We don’t know when, or with how much notice, but a hearing will happen on Sandoval’s proposal.  And, to be honest with you, that issue has led to new political games being played.

The new conversation is centering on the idea of attaching a means-test to the ESA program.  What that looks like exactly, I don’t know.  Reports vary and are constantly changing. Some of what I hear includes rolling the program back to an income-based eligibility. Others have mentioned rolling the program back to a program for kids zoned to underperforming schools or at-risk schools. There has been mention of having ESA for special-needs students only. And, there are reports of various combinations of all the above.

Friends, you know how Nevada’s ESA program will move the education needle forward for students. You don’t need me to tell you what going backwards will mean for the progress we’ve made in education.  So, for families, the battle now also becomes keeping ESA as an option for each and every public school family in the state.

Every child.  Each child.  Your child!

Sandoval is holding strong for every child. His heels are dug in. He remains committed to keeping program eligibility as it currently stands.

But, you must continue your phone calls, emails, social media posts and letters. Make no mistake, Parent Power is driving this conversation!

You are driving this conversation!

Here’s some things parents are doing with their Power.

The Facebook group ACE of Nevada has started a video campaign called #IamNVESA. Using their phones, parents and students are introducing themselves on social media with short video clips stating why ESA is important to themselves or their children. The video concludes with the tagline, “I am Nevada ESA!”  They are also using the hashtags #IamNVESA and the #Nvleg followed by most lawmakers.  But, friends, it’s going to take a lot of sharing, tweeting and other parent/student videos.

You can show your power, too. Simply upload your video on social media, use the hashtags #IamNVESA and #Nvleg.  Be sure to tag lawmakers or post the videos right on their Facebook pages.  And, if you tweet, be sure to tweet it out as well!  Lawmakers love Twitter.

You can find a list of legislators’ social media and other contact information here.

So, if you or your friends are looking for ways to show support for ESA or reach lawmakers, you may want to share the above information with your friends.

Make ESA a “flitter on Twitter” is what I like to say.

Another way parents are reaching lawmakers is by leaving their opinions on the legislature’s opinion page.  This is an easy way to voice your opinion. Lawmakers do utilize the tool to gauge public opinion.

And, while you’re at it, you may want to send some support to Governor Sandoval and Treasurer Schwartz for all they are doing to #LetOurChildrenSucceed!

#LetOurChildrenSucceed

 

~Karen