(Chuck Muth) – Democrats hate the idea of kids getting a good education and learning to think for themselves. Because they know that an educated kid is more likely to grow up and be a Republican.
So in the 2023 Legislature, they cut funding for school choice Opportunity Scholarships for low-income families.
Of course, Democrat “leaders” are trying to spin that they didn’t. But they did. Even the far-left Nevada Independent confirms that “Nevada’s Opportunity Scholarship program (has) less money this year than last year.”
So the cuts are undeniable.
They include funding for students through the Injured Police Officers Fund, as well as funding through Silver State Scholarships for students attending the Desert Torah Academy.
What do Democrats have against law enforcement officers and Jews?
The cuts by these “George Wallace” Democrats in Carson City threatened to force some 600 students who received Opportunity Scholarships last year back into failing government schools this school year
Fortunately, Nevada now has a Republican governor who has proposed using unspent COVID funds from the federal government to restore some $3 million of the money the Democrats cut from the program.
“Right now, hundreds of Opportunity Scholarship students are at risk of losing their scholarships,” Gov. Joe Lombardo said in a statement. “That’s unacceptable. We’re going to fight for our kids.”
Unfortunately, the Interim Finance Committee, which can block the move, is controlled by the same Democrats who cut the funding in the first place. Will they screw these kids out of the education of their choice yet again?
Yes, if the Nevada teachers’ union gets it way.
The Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) is urging Democrats to block the governor’s proposal. As the late teachers union boss Al Shanker is famously quoted as saying…
“When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”
In a tweet on Friday, the NSEA wrote…
“When these federal relief packages were passed, of the many anticipated uses, funding vouchers was not one of them. NSEA urges the Interim Finance Committee to reject the use of federal funds for such a purpose. Keep public money (state and federal) in public schools.”
What a load of crap.
First, Opportunity Scholarships are NOT vouchers. They are scholarships funded by private companies in Nevada that get a tax credit for donating to the program – just as you get a tax credit for donating money to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.
Secondly, public money should be used for public EDUCATION, not necessarily public schools. After all, public money is expended to give low-income families food stamps that are used in private grocery stores.
In addition, public money is already used – through Pell Grants, the GI bill and Head Start programs – for students to attend private schools, including religious. So this program isn’t breaking any new ground in that department.
But what about the objection to using COVID funds to backfill the money the Democrats cut for Opportunity Scholarships? That doesn’t hold water either.
Under former Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak, a windfall of almost a BILLION dollars in COVID money went to the “Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund” (ESSER). And according to the Nevada Department of Education, some $564 million of that money remains unspent.
So $3 million of that cash is a drop in the bucket.
And for those who will try to argue that Opportunity Scholarships have nothing to do with COVID, take a look at some examples of what that COVID money has already been used for at the Nevada Department of Education…
- Over $30 million to non-profits to help communities “that are still struggling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Opportunity Scholarships are awarded by non-profits. And anyone who doesn’t think all our kids are still struggling with the damage done by the shutdowns is delusional.
Here are some other education-related expenditures from the COVID money, per the minutes of an Interim Finance Committee meeting in 2021…
- $24 million “to continue providing academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours.”
- $1.8 million “to fund pre-kindergarten seats.”
- $2.8 million “to fund an expansion of services offered through Infinite Campus.” (Infinite Campus is a private education software company.)
- Another $2.8 million “to continue providing support for children and youth with limited English proficiency.”
- $985,000 “to continue providing educational continuity for children and youth in state-run institutions for juveniles and in adult correctional institutions.”
So juvenile delinquents get almost $1 million, but kids trying to stay OUT of trouble get squat?
- $73,346 in Head Start funds “to continue providing early childhood learning to promote school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children.”
- $844,000 “to continue providing trauma services for families and students who are underinsured, undocumented, or have no insurance.”
- $173,341 to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning to over 5,000 students grades 3 through 5.”
- $787,476 to the Department of Education “to upgrade communications equipment and cabling at the main Carson City building.”
Because of COVID???
- $121,782 “to fund translation services.”
- $2.5 million to the Charter School Authority “to continue programs to increase academic achievement by improving teacher and principal quality.”
- $625,000 for “training, job placement, advocacy, career coaching, and other services to support Nevada’s unemployed and underemployed.”
News Flash: Getting a good education helps kids get jobs and stay off unemployment.
There was also almost $22 million “to provide emergency financial relief to charter schools to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Guess who submitted testimony opposing this? Yep, the NSEA. Why? Because charter schools – even though public – aren’t unionized.
But here’s the real kicker…
- $4.58 million “to continue supporting schools with high percentages of children from low-income families.”
Opportunity Scholarships are limited to low-income (mostly minority) families who average less than $60,000 per year. Why should we only help such families if they stick their kids in a failing government school?
Spending a mere $3 million to shore up Opportunity Scholarships for the money Democrats cut from the program is an absolutely appropriate use of unspent COVID dough and perfectly consistent with previous expenditures related to educating kids who were hurt by the Sisolak Shutdown.
If Democrats in the Legislature block this extremely reasonable and comparatively inexpensive proposal by Gov. Lombardo to help some of the most vulnerable children in our communities, I hope they all get head lice.
And lose at the ballot box next year!
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“There wasn’t a red wave or a blue wave in the 2022 midterms. But there was a school choice wave.” – Corey DeAngelis, American Federation for Children
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.