by Richard R. Becker
There are some people who have the misconception that the Education Savings Account (ESA) Program in Nevada will somehow only help wealthy families. This isn’t our experience.
We, like many families, make as many sacrifices as we can to send our children to the schools of our choice. We do it because all children are different. We know this to be true because our son attended public school for his entire career and it was mostly fine for him, but our daughter is different in that she performs her best in a different environment.
Knowing this, most of her education has been in a home school or private school environment. She is currently in fifth grade and was headed for Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School next year. However, the failure of our legislature to act in favor of ESAs last year has put this school out of reach.
You see, as children get older, education budgets don’t always keep pace with the cost of tuition. Funding ESAs now would have helped offset the growing gap between our education budget and the cost of tuition, ensuring our daughter could have continued on the path she has worked so hard to obtain.
We now have to scramble to find other education options for her. We are hoping to “win the lottery” and be accepted into a charter school or find an alternative private school within our very tight budget to attend for a few years until ESA funding is resolved. The process has created an air of uncertainty and anxiety around education for the first time in her life.
What troubles me the most about this, as someone who teaches educational outreach classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is that educational success is often dictated by the right environment for the student and developing their love for education, unhindered by negative emotions. As educators, we want students to both be challenged and challenge themselves while experiencing a sense of anticipation and excitement in their accomplishment. It’s how they all develop a love of learning.
For this reason, I am hoping you listen to the voices of parents all across our state who support ESAs. They know what is best for their children. Finding an alternative source of funding to make ESAs a reality is more than the right thing to do, it is a critical step toward improving the education system in our state and will also assist in freeing up educational funds and reducing class sizes at public schools.
ESAs are a win-win in that they will support a life-changing program that provides children the opportunities they deserve to succeed. And as they succeed, they will be better prepared and more likely to pursue degrees and contribute to our communities as tomorrow’s leaders, teachers, doctors, engineers, artists, and whatever else they might dream up.