By: Tom Greene
On Monday I had the incredible opportunity and honor to witness Governor Brian Sandoval sign Nevada’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program (Assembly Bill 165) into law, making Nevada the 21st state in the country with a private school choice program (along with the District of Columbia and Douglas County, CO).
This legislation provides working-class Nevada families the opportunity to receive a scholarship to send their child to a private school of their choice. Under the new law, businesses and individuals can receive a tax credit for their donations to non-profit organizations that award scholarships to students whose families earn an income of no more than three times the poverty line.
And what a fantastic, new opportunity it is! For years, school choice in the Silver State (like many other states) was a luxury only for those families who could afford it. This left families of less means without any options; for good or bad, they were stuck in the school assigned to their zip code. Governor Sandoval changed this, first by adding his support to this important policy and then by adding his signature to AB 165. His leadership has helped usher in a new day for all Nevada families.
This historic day would have never arrived if not for Governor Sandoval’s visionary leadership and persistent drive to stay the course for nearly five years. Similar school choice legislation failed in years past, but Governor Sandoval remained committed to the promise of school choice for the next generation of Nevadans. His persistence, along with the support of true champions in the Nevada Legislature, paid-off for all Nevada students. These students are the future the state, and they now have more opportunities to achieve their God-given potential.
Parents and students across the country need more leaders like Governor Sandoval. Leaders who will champion their interests even in the midst of political risk, struggle and defeat. Leaders who understand the power of school choice to change lives. Nevada’s future is a little brighter today, because of a persistent governor.
Nevada isn’t the only state empowering parents and students with educational choice. School choice programs across America helped educate more than 300,000 students last year. And that number will only increase in 2015. Earlier this month, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the Succeed Scholarship Program to offer private school choice in his state.
Thanks to the perseverance of bold leaders, choice will continue to reach even more of our nation’s families.
Tom Greene is a Regional Advocacy Director for Excellence in Education National. Before joining Excel National, Tom served as the Manager of Campus Programs for the American Enterprise Institute. Prior to his work at AEI, he served as a policy analyst and senior strategist for an education advocacy organization and taught high school civics and economics.