Our friends at Nevada Homeschool Network were forced to aggressively defend their homeschool law in 2015 when School Choice advocates attempted to use it as the vehicle for Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). They fought for many years to remove onerous homeschool regulations in Nevada, so they now must protect the liberty they have gained.
They have done extensive research about ESAs (in Indiana we are seeing them called Education Scholarship Accounts or Education Option Accounts.) They are education subsidies that are accompanied by regulation. We have asked if we could share their research. They issues they raise in Nevada are applicable in Indiana.
As the 2017 Nevada Legislative session approaches, homeschool parents and advocates must stay engaged in the debate over “government funded school choice” and the impact on homeschool freedom; Education Liberty, or #EdLiberty for short.
We must understand and proclaim the Biblical truth that ALL parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their own children, not the state. But when private schools/parents accept “state funding” the government takes control, not the parent!
1/23/2017 – Question: Why shouldn’t NV Legislator’s regulate self-funded homeschooling if they vote for funding the ESA program that does come under government control?
Answer: Parents have the fundamental right to direct the health, education, and welfare of the child which is upheld in Nevada statute, case law and by the US Supreme Court. Homeschool parents in Nevada who do not accept taxpayer funding have the ultimate right and responsibility to ensure that their children are educated within the framework of the child’s age and abilities, as determined by the parent. However, the court may intercede in the event of “education neglect” as allowed in NV statute. So, in Nevada the “best interest” of a child who is homeschooled is determined by their parents or guardians, not the government, which is in line with the views of delegates to the 1884 writing of the Nevada Constitution and upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.
Blog Update: January 22, 2017 – Barbara Dragon, NHN Officer Emeritus
Click here for printable version of 1/22/17 update.
Self-funded Private Education vs. Government Funded School Choice:
The Liberty of Parents and Private Schools vs. Government Control
- Nevada’s “Education Savings Account” program now being proclaimed “the model” for other states in the publicly funded “school choice” debate. Or is it?
Background: During the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session, State Senator Scott Hammond requested a Bill Draft Resolution (BDR) for a government funded alternative education option for Nevada K-12 students. The Friedman Foundation (renamed EdChoice in 2016) assisted Senator Hammond in the writing of SB 302, the Nevada Education Savings Account bill. What makes Nevada’s ESA unique from existing smaller programs in four other states (Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee) is that it is “universal”, meaning it is not “means” or “needs” tested and is available to all NV public school students enrolled for a minimum of 100 days regardless of family income level or school failure rates.
Authors of SB 302 proclaimed, “It allows parents 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.” [i] This new program passed the 2015 NV Legislature along strict party lines (all Republicans in support, all Democrats opposed).[ii]  Currently, state legislatures in Texas, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and even President-elect Trumps’ new administration are mulling government funded ESAs to expand “school choice” in 2017 and the Nevada ESA program is the model for many of the proposals.
An Education Savings Account (ESA) program is different from a “voucher” they say, since money from the state’s Distributive School Account (DSA) is not being paid directly from the state to a religious private school (Blaine Amendments in many state constitutions prohibit the use of public funding for sectarian purposes). Rather, the money (between $5,100 to $5,700 in NV) is to go from the state’s Distributive School Account into the Education Savings Account in the name of the child, whose parents then choose from government “approved” resources where to spend the money so that the child receives an education as compelled by state compulsory attendance laws.[iii] This, proponents say, means the parent, not the state, is choosing the education modality for the child and the parent is then “empowered” to choose a private religious school or use religious materials for the education of their child. The NV Supreme Court upheld this in Schwartz v. Lopez.[iv] However, this new “empowerment” called “school choice” is still controlled by government when compared to self-funded, private homeschooling that is rooted in the parent’s right to direct the education of their child, free from government control, in other words, Education Liberty.
Read more here.