June 8, 2017

What’s next for ESAs?

Good afternoon ESA friends,

Im sure you are all aware by now that lawmakers failed to fund Nevadas ESA program. While we at are certainly saddened and disappointed in our lawmakers decision to not help the thousands of children clinging to the hope of ESA, we are not giving up.  Yes, we — like all of you, Im sure — are in need of little R&R, but by no means are we dispirited.

ESA, while still unfunded, does remain law in Nevada. And, that, my friends, is a win for ESA.  

The ultimate goal has always been to work towards a universal ESA program, whereby every school-age child in Nevada can choose the best educational path to meet his or her individual needs. We intend to foster opportunity for all children to reach their full potential. 

So, forging ahead has always been part of the plan for  Now, we just have to keep ESA funding as a goal.  I hope you will all remain with us in that effort.  For now, however, lettake a well-earned moment to recharge.

Many of you have asked, “Which lawmakers failed my family?  Friends, my short answer is, “They all did!  But, for those who want a more detailed recount of this sessionpolitical shenanigans, be sure to check out NPRIs Legislative Report Card, which will be coming out in late August/early September.  If you cant wait until then, feel free to call the office at 702-222-0642.  Someone will be happy to answer your questions and help you understand what transpired over the session

Or, if you are into social media, jump on the Facebook group ACE of Nevada.  Several parents there monitored legislative proceedings and watched the collapse of ESA funding unfold in real time.  Thank you to all the Twitter moms and dads who posted ESA tweets to ACE so that folks could see other happenings as they occurred.  

Friends, as disappointed as I know you are about all that has transpired over the last two years, you must know that what you have achieved is still nothing short of miraculous.  You stalled the vote in the stadium special session. You convinced Governor Sandoval to finally make ESA funding a priority. You forced a hearing for SB506 after Democrats’ leadership vowed no hearings on ESA funding.  You packed up the family BBQ, left the movies, or rushed back to town on Memorial Day to fill the room when a lastminute hearing was finally called. Did you know it took over one hour for parents to sign in at Grant Sawyer?

Friends, you came together for last minute rallies, wrote and called lawmakers, blasted social media and kept the pressure on. It was you who reignited negotiations when they burned out. Friends, you did all that!

And so, you became a force in the state!

Just think: You did all this while hurriedly responding to lawsuits, deadlines, specialinterest and paidlobbyist strategies, ruthless tactics from ESA opponents and a legislature determined to shut you out.  Imagine, now, what you can do once rested, recharged and able to plan a path forward!  

Yes, I am sorely disappointed in our Legislature and Governor Sandoval. It makes my heart break for the thousands of families and children fighting for a future, for the parents clawing until their nails bleed to escape a failed education system — not failing system, but, a FAILED system.  But, make no mistake, ESA is still the law in Nevada and we will forge ahead.

Some of you may have heard claims of a win for ESA because lawmakers secured a ONE TIME additional $20 million for the Choice tax scholarship program.  Let me clarify a little of the confusion, that $20 million concession is not a win for ESA.  It is, however, a temporary boost for the income-based tax scholarship program, and it definitely will help many families. It is not, however, an ESA win.  ESA and the Choice scholarship program are two very separate programs with different eligibility requirements and run by different agencies.   

For sure, many ESA families also qualify for the scholarship program. So, if you have not already, be sure to get your scholarship applications in if you qualify.  Currently, the only Scholarship Grant Organization (SGO) accepting applications is Dinosaurs and Roses. Deadline for applications is June 15 — received in office by U.S. mail and completed.

You can learn more about the Choice Scholarship program on Nevadas Department of Education website. As always, you can also reach out to me and I will be happy to assist you. 

Given this opportunity for new funding, I would also suggest parents monitor the other SGOs in case they reopen applications.  I will be monitoring them as well. So, be sure to open any updates coming your way over the summer. 

Friends, to say the least, ESA has been a roller coaster ride of ups-and-downs and rounds-and-rounds.  And, once again, lawmakers and elected leaders have left your children hanging upside down. 

But let us remember: Americas earliest pioneers have always had to flush out the wolves, herd animals and carve out a path.

I, and everyone on the team, are truly honored to be blazing this trail alongside all of you!