Parents and students tell their ESA stories:

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14 year old Taliyah Wilson shares her story:

Hi my name is Taliyah Wilson I am 14 years old, and will be attending high school this upcoming school year. It was very exciting news that I would be able to attend a private or specialty school of my choice. This means a lot to me because I will be expose to various cultures as well as a unique learning environment, one that is focused on my gifts and talents. A quality environment worry free from being overlooked or as if I don’t have a voice due to overcrowded classrooms. It has always been my dream to graduate high school with confidence and knowing that I will be prepared for college academically and mentally.

So, today is a very important and significant day that will impact my future and my dreams. I am asking you to please release the opportunity for kids like me to attend a school of our choice.

Thank you,

Taliyah Wilson

Read Taliyah's handwritten letter
ESAs could save Amber's daughter from bullying and harassment:

My name is Amber.  I am not the “white majority” like “Educate Nevada Now!” is portraying me in the media, nor am I a religious zealot as the ACLU would like you to think.  I am a working class parent of a child who needs to go to an alternative school other than public school.

I was contacted by a close friend last year, who told me to apply for the ESA program.  At the time, I thought I had no need for an ESA.  I told her I would talk to my children and their dad about it.  I let the deadline pass.

Less than 24 hours after the first enrollment period passed, on December 3, 2015, I was getting ready for work when my daughter’s middle school called.  It was the Dean of students.  He wanted to talk to me about an incident with my daughter.  He was sure she had spoken to me about it, but she had not. 

My daughter had been sexually assaulted by another student. 

The Dean told me that disciplinary action had been taken.  That there were other girls involved.  That during their investigation, the student was observed following my daughter throughout the school.  That they had observed the student essentially stalking my daughter.  A no contact order was signed by all the children involved.  The child was removed from the school.

I was horrified.  I was sad.  I was angry.  I was devastated.  I needed to take action to protect my daughter.  This student obviously lived in my neighborhood in order to be zoned for the school they had all attended.  I needed to remove her from this dangerous situation.

But, I had missed the deadline to apply for the ESA funding by 24 HOURS.

I spent the next day calling schools to get their availability for new students and tuition prices.  I had friends offer to let me use their addresses in order to register my daughter in another public school. 

The public school offered counseling but no zone variance to attend another school. 

I talked to all of my friends who have children in private schools.  Free schools and schools with tuition.  I talked to my daughter and her dad.  We settled on two schools, a Christian school with tuition and no waiting list, and a school that is not religion based and has a huge waiting list.

About a week later the bullying started.  I cannot directly tie the bullying to the incident before but now my daughter had students passing her in the halls telling her she didn’t belong there and that she should die.  I called the school. 

They assured me they would investigate. 

Decision made.  My daughter needed to go to another school as soon as possible. 

She visited the Christian school as they were the only school without a waiting list.  You see, we are Christians but do not attend church.  I am not a religious zealot by any means.  The class size in her grade was at most 12 students.  They have an honors based curriculum.  They have sports teams.  My daughter will have two friends that attend there.  It is about 3 blocks from my office.  My daughter liked it there and felt welcome and safe. 

That is what my decision to apply for and utilize the ESA funding is based upon.

As I calendared all of the dates for the next open enrollment, and my daughter continues her counseling, I was hit again. 

An injunction. 

My daughter’s only way out of this situation had been frozen by a lawyer in Reno and political opponents to the program.  I listen to the news and read the articles written against the ESA funding and I really feel a lot of people are missing the point.  It is very offensive to me. 

My daughter cannot be the only child that needs a better, safer alternative.  My family cannot be the only family that could not have sought out a better, safer alternative for their children without ESA.  It is disappointing to say the very least.  I am going to make this work either with a second job or help from extended family because my daughter’s safety and her well-being is at stake, certainly not my race, status and/or religion.  I must honor my promise to my daughter that she is changing schools. 

I have to show her that my priority is her.

– Amber

ESAs could help this mother of three living paycheck to paycheck

I gave birth to twins last July — and when my maternity leave ran out, I was forced to quit my full time job. Child care cost for the twins was simply too high, meaning that my take home pay wouldn’t be enough to cover it.

I also have a 6 year-old daughter in first grade in a private school.

Because of the cost of raising three children, and living paycheck to paycheck, I was reluctantly planning to move my 6 year-old to a public school — despite the fact that she is excelling where she is.

Then I heard about ESAs.

ESAs gave me hope that I can keep my daughter in her current school. I was ready to apply, and then the injunction was placed on the program.

Now with the injunction, my daughter’s future is once again uncertain. I hope this gets resolve soon. My family currently lives paycheck to paycheck (like most Nevada families).

The only thing I can give my children is a chance at a good future. And ESA can ensure that they have the best start possible on that future.

   – Amanda

ESAs will be a gift to everyone:

As parents in Nevada we strongly support ESAs.  As taxpayers, we want to choose how money is spent to educate our children.   

We live on the west side of Las Vegas in an area considered, by some, to have a few of the best public schools available.  But the issues are still serious.

In the end, the public schools near us simply aren’t the best curriculum for our daughter’s interest.  Even worse, however, is the extreme overcrowding with which she must contend. 

Our nephew recently moved here with us and entered the public high school as well.  In some classes he has to pull up a chair and share a desk!!!  At lunchtime many students have to stand and eat because there is nowhere for them to sit!  Really?  This is one of the best schools? Thousands of kids herded into a building like cattle is the best we can do?

As taxpayers we should have a choice in how her education dollars are used.  It’s a huge sacrifice for our family to take on tuition on our own.  Why not let parents have a choice in schools? 

Doing so will relieve the crowding, and give the children who remain a better experience.  It’s a win for both the school and the child!  (Especially since the public school will continue to receive funds from local sources — for kids they no longer have to educate!) 

So many families are on the fence, just waiting to take advantage of this… It will help an already overcrowded and overwhelmed school district. Most of all, it will help the students.

Thank you,

Don and Jennifer