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Nevada Legislature Seals Mixed Legacy on Education

The LIBRE Initiative Praises Funding for Opportunity Scholarships, But Educational Savings Accounts Wait

(Las Vegas, NV) – According to press reports, the Nevada State Legislature has agreed to increase funding for Opportunity Scholarships, which will expand educational options for Nevada students. This program provides families earning up to 300 percent of the poverty level a scholarship up to $7,755 for K-12 private school tuition and fees. At the same time, legislators have failed to allocate funds for Education Savings Accounts (ESA) – a program that would allow families – many of them Latino – to remove their children from their assigned public schools and access a portion, or all, of their children’s public education funding to pay for services like private school tuition, curriculum, learning therapies, tutoring and more. The Nevada legislature approved the nation’s first universal ESA program in 2015, but the program remained mired in legal challenges until 2016, when the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that ESAs were constitutional, but required a new funding mechanism. By failing to pass a bill to fund the ESA program, Nevada legislative leaders have failed to act to expand educational options for all families in Nevada.

Ronnie Najarro, Nevada Coalitions Director of The LIBRE Initiative, issued the following statement:

“The Opportunity Scholarship funding expansion is a victory for Latino students and parents who are eager for more options for a better education. However, it is disappointing that Nevada families have been denied access to ESAs because state legislators failed to provide funding. Access to the ESA program would have empowered more students and more parents with the tools and resources they need to achieve greater educational success. This is why the fight for ESAs must continue. The LIBRE Initiative will continue to advocate on behalf of Latino students and parents in favor of the benefits of the ESA program. We urge state legislators to commit to prioritizing ESAs in order to ensure that all families can take advantage of this empowering program, which will truly help our kids achieve the American Dream.”