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OPINION: Bipartisan support for school choice grows around the country


by Jeff Reed – Nevada Policy Research Institute

Proponents of the status quo in education — led by the Nevada State Education Association — have already announced their opposition to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposal to create a statewide voucher program through a constitutional amendment. A voucher is a government-provided scholarship, which all parents could use to send their children to the school of their choice, including private and religious schools.

Sandoval’s recently announced plan would give families at or near the poverty line a voucher worth just over $5,000 per student. The amount of the voucher would decrease, on a sliding scale, to about $2,500 for families who earn 400 percent or more of the poverty line. Excluding capital costs, Nevada currently spends more than $8,000 per student in K-12 education, which means this proposal certainly could produce a financial windfall for the state and localities, although a constitutional amendment will take several years to approve.

Although special-interest groups like the public employee unions may oppose it, support for a voucher program need not be partisan. In numerous other states, Democrats and Republicans have shown that school choice is a unifier against the real enemy in this conflict: academic underperformance.

In the past year alone, school-choice programs have expanded across the country in a bipartisan manner and appear likely to grow again this year.

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