Rogers Foundation lawsuit seeks to keep children trapped in failing schools | EDITORIAL

In too many Nevada schools, children are unsafe, not learning, and may not even have a full-time teacher. Now a group is suing – to stop them from finding a better alternative.

On Tuesday, the Rogers Foundation announced legal challenges against two school choice initiatives. This is a common tactic to delay signature collection. One proposal is for a constitutional amendment that would establish school choice for parents through the creation of educational freedom accounts. Instead of sending their children to public school, parents could use these accounts to pay for private school or homeschooling.

The other proposal is an initiative petition that outlines the details of this program. It is modeled after the education savings account program that was passed in 2015 but never came into effect. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled its funding mechanism unconstitutional. The Democrats then repealed it entirely. If the backers collect enough signatures, voters will have to approve the constitutional amendment twice. The statutory initiative would likely be put to the vote in 2024.

That Nevada students need alternatives to the status quo is clear. The Review-Journal has spent decades detailing the state of the Clark County School District. It’s hard to remember a time when things were more depressing.

The district’s strategy of not disciplining students has led to an increase in violence. The district’s goal for this year is for 39.2 percent of third-grade students to be fluent in reading. For students in grades six to eight in mathematics, the target is 25.3%. The district has long suffered from a shortage of teachers. There is now a shortage of substitute teachers.

Wealthy parents already have a loophole. They may pay tuition at a private school or move to a neighborhood where these problems are not as prevalent. Low-income kids are usually stuck.

The Rogers Foundation wants to keep them there, cementing many of them in the cycle of poverty that a good education can break.

“A handful of special interest groups have staged an assault on public education, and now Nevada is one of the battlegrounds,” said Rory Reid, CEO of the Rogers Foundation.

Proponents of this line of thinking must open their eyes to reality. No outside assault could destroy public schools as effectively as the education bureaucracy and teachers’ unions have already done. Ironically, well-designed school choice programs have led to better public schools nationwide. When students have choices, it forces adults to improve the system.

Nevada children need alternatives now. Groups like the Rogers Foundation should try to help them, not hinder them.

About Leslie Schwartz

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