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Nevada Supreme Court Strikes Down School Voucher System

Public education advocates are praising the Nevada Supreme Court's decision to strike down a school voucher system. (melpomenem/iStockphoto)
Public education advocates are praising the Nevada Supreme Court's decision to strike down a school voucher system. (melpomenem/iStockphoto)
September 30, 2016

LAS VEGAS – Public-education advocates are praising the Nevada Supreme Court's decision on Thursday to strike down the school voucher system as unconstitutional. The ACLU and the group "Educate Nevada Now" had sued to stop the voucher program from going into effect, and the court decided that allowing parents to use taxpayer money for tuition at private or parochial schools violates the state's constitutional mandate to fund public education.

Nick DiArchangel, director of communications for the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA), said the union is pleased with the ruling.

"This is a great victory for Nevada students, because this illegal voucher program would have done nothing but drawn much-needed revenue out of public education," he said. "And public education could not afford that."

The state's Education Savings Account law would have allowed parents to get a voucher for $5,100 to $5,700. A study by the Fordham Institute has shown that in other states, students who left public school using vouchers actually saw a decrease in their test scores in math and language arts.

DiArchangel said NSEA believes vouchers amount to a tax subsidy for private schools, which he said have a poor record of accepting disadvantaged and minority students.

"The voucher systems, in other states, have been a way to privatize public education," he explained. "We have seen public education be defunded, we've seen educators vilified, but the fact of the matter is that public education is still the best way to provide an opportunity for every student."

Supporters of the voucher system say they're glad the court ruled that Education Savings Accounts themselves are legal, and they are vowing to craft legislation for next session to change the funding formula and revive the voucher program.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV