My First Solar Eclipse! 17 Eye-Opening Photos of Kids Experiencing Science Along the Path of Totality

Bullying on the Rise in NYC Middle and High Schools, NYDN Analysis of Student Surveys Shows

Immigration Agents Inside Schools? Why Some Activists Are Warning Undocumented Students About Trump’s Policy Shifts

NYC Numbers Show City’s Unassigned Teachers Paid $10,000 More on Average Than Those Teaching Kids Full Time

As Immigrant Students Worry About a New School Year, Districts & Educators Unveil Plans to Protect Their Safety (and Privacy)

A D.C. Breakthrough as Traditional Public School Students Post Gains on PARCC Test, Outperforming Charters

This Week in ESSA: Final 4 First-Round States Get Federal Feedback, 6 States Now Approved, Chiefs for Change Weighs In

‘No One Is Above the Law’: Divisive Trump Surrogate Carl Paladino Removed From Buffalo School Board

Veto Override Uncertain as Fight Over Funding Illinois Schools Moves to the House

Noble Network of Charter Schools: It’s Not Just About Going to College, but About Global Perspective & Leaving Chicago

74 Interview: David Hardy on Putting Purpose Before Politics and Kids Before Adults in Leading Ohio’s 2nd State-Takeover District

For Schools, an Eclipse Conundrum: To Open or Close? For Fun or for Science?

New Poll Shows Sharp Decline in Support for Public Charter Schools Over Past Year

A Massachusetts Teachers Union Votes to Kill a Successful Charter School, as Families Scramble for Answers

WATCH: Mission to Mars Video Wins $10,000 and Visit to NASA for 4 NJ Middle Schoolers

Jason Botel Reportedly Out at Education Dept. as Feds Reject ESSA Plan From DeVos’s Home State

2 in 3 High School Students Know of Kids Who Cheat Using Digital Devices — but Few Admit Doing It Themselves

Fewer Than 1 in 3 Americans Support Kids Opting out of Tests; About Half Confused on What ‘Opt Out’ Means

Call Her RoboKid: How a Cutting-Edge Robot Is Helping an Ohio Student Attend Classes While She’s Sick at Home

LearnLaunch Accelerator Gives a Boost to Ed Tech Startups Worldwide From Its Boston Home

Nevada’s ESA Program Dies in Late-Night Legislative Deal That Gives $20 Million for Tax Credit Scholarships Instead

Photo Credit: The Nevada School Choice Partnership

June 5, 2017

Talking Points

Nevada’s historic universal education savings account program dies in the state legislature #nvleg

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

What promised to be the largest expansion of school choice for any state in the country is history after Nevada legislators refused to fund the program last weekend before the end of session. Heated budget negotiations culminated in a compromise deal Sunday night to give $20 million in tax credits toward Nevada’s Opportunity Scholarship program, but nothing for the state’s Education Savings Accounts.

“Unbelievable. I have no words. Shameful.” Republican Assemblyman Jim Marchant wrote on Twitter.

Opponents of Education Savings Accounts celebrated the deal as a win for public education.

“This has been a tremendous legislative session. Our representatives demonstrated that they are committed to improving our K-12 education system and that they are willing to put our children first and above politics,” said Educate Nevada Now Policy Director Sylvia Lazos in a statement. “Most importantly, this was a big win for our students!”

How the ESA fight and fallout went down:

MONDAY, MAY 29: Republican lawmakers leave a negotiating session thinking a compromise on ESAs is a good bet, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. But Democrats call a last-minute hearing and put in a surprise amendment to ESA legislation that includes eliminating the historic universal eligibility provision and putting restrictions on participating schools. Budget negotiations stall. Republicans and Gov. Brian Sandoval threaten not to support any budget bills unless Democrats restore ESA funding.

THURSDAY, JUNE 1: Republicans hold up a major construction bill, which requires a two-thirds vote, over ESA funding. Republicans also delay a marijuana sales tax bill that could raise more than $60 million for schools.

FRIDAY, JUNE 2: After several days of wrangling, Democrats pass two education funding bills on a party-line vote, without Republican support, the Review-Journal reports. One bill moves $60 million Sandoval had earmarked for ESAs into the general public education fund.


SATURDAY, JUNE 3: Nevadans on both sides of the ESA issue stage protests. 

SUNDAY, JUNE 4: Legislators reach a compromise to allow a one-time $20 million in tax credits for the state’s Opportunity Scholarship program, which was originally capped at $5 million in 2015. Those donations will provide more than $7,000 in individual scholarships for students whose families earn less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Under the deal, there is no funding for ESAs. Dozens of bills finally pass in the late hours of Sunday night and early Monday morning.

The Parents for SB506 (the ESA bill number) Twitter account posted a series of videos from a Las Vegas demonstration by pro-ESA families. 

“I would ask [legislators] what was best for their children,” said one parent in a video. “Did you make the choice to send your kid to a public school or did you have the opportunity to send your kid to a private school and give them the best that they deserved? Because I, my family, can’t afford private school.”

An anti-ESA protest outside the legislature showed Nevadans holding signs that read “Public Schools an American Legacy” and “Show DeVos Who’s the Boss.”


Some saw this as a win against federal priorities for expanded school choice. President Trump’s proposed budget would remove billions from the Education Department and send money to choice programs, including $250 million for vouchers, which Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos strongly supports.

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, who has expressed strong opposition to ESAs, praised the budget deal.

“Nevadans expect their legislators to stand up for their values while finding common ground and reaching across the aisle for the good of this state,” Ford, a Democrat, said in a statement. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to work in a bipartisan fashion to close out this session with these important pieces of legislation.”

But groups like the Nevada School Choice Partnership hinted that this is not the last hope for ESAs.

“We want to make it clear that the system once again failed kids in Nevada in a bipartisan way. Leadership had a chance to fund this program, which is in high demand. We are deeply disappointed and will continue fighting until all Nevada students have the opportunity they deserve to attend a school that works for them,” the organization told The 74 in a written statement.

Nevada passed the Education Savings Accounts program in 2015, when the Legislature was Republican-controlled. It was the most sweeping ESA proposal in the country, allowing any family, regardless of income, to receive nearly $5,000 in state funds to use for private schooling. But lawsuits quickly followed from groups worried about diverting money from public schools and using taxpayer dollars to fund private education with no public accountability, and the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the funding mechanism unconstitutional.

Even so, more than 8,000 families signed up — far more than Sandoval’s $60 million could pay for.

This session, Republicans made funding the program a priority. But by that time, the Democrats had gained control of the Legislature.