FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 20, 2017
Annette Magnus, Battle Born Progress, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sylvia Lazos, Educate Nevada Now, email@example.com
Chris Daly, Nevada State Education Association, firstname.lastname@example.org
Holly Welborn, ACLU of Nevada, email@example.com
Nevadans Announce Coalition to Fight Vouchers
Vouchers Drain Money From Public Schools, Hurt Students and Families
CARSON CITY – Today, a coalition including Educate Nevada Now, the Nevada State Education Association, the ACLU of Nevada, and Battle Born Progress, gathered to demand that legislators invest in our public school students — not in vouchers.
The coalition, #publicmoneypublicschools, argues that vouchers hurt students, families, and taxpayers by sending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools that are not held accountable for student achievement.
“These precious public dollars can be spent on proven techniques to improve student achievement for all of Nevada’s 460,000 students, not just the select few,” said Annette Magnus, executive director of Battle Born Progress.
Multiple legislators attended the event to express their opposition to vouchers, including Sens. Joyce Woodhouse and Julia Ratti, and Assembly members Olivia Diaz, Edgar Flores, William McCurdy, Brittney Miller, Ozzie Fumo, and Tyrone Thompson, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee.
“I am not interested in draining tens of millions of dollars from our public schools,” Woodhouse said. “I do not want to send our taxpayer dollars to private schools that will serve a small percentage of Nevada’s 460,000 students, while leaving the others behind. Vouchers hurt our students, our kids, our families, and the taxpayers of Nevada.”
Diaz noted that vouchers would send public money to private schools that can pick and choose which students they accept. Private schools also are not required to provide supports for low-income students such as free transportation, and free and reduced lunch.
“All kids are entitled to a high-quality world-class education,” Diaz said. “It’s clear that vouchers are designed to take us down the path toward privatizing our education and our public schools.”
The #publicmoneypublicschools coalition has support from many community partners, grassroots volunteers, and activists.
Sylvia Lazos, policy director of Educate Nevada Now, which filed Lopez v Schwartz, a lawsuit that stopped vouchers in 2016, said she is saddened that some legislators won’t admit that vouchers are unconstitutional.
“I refuse to stop speaking out against vouchers because this is a slick privatization experiment on our students and it needs to stop now,” said Electra McGrath-Skrzydlewski, one of the parents who participated in the Lopez v Schwartz lawsuit to stop vouchers. “I call on our legislators to heed the intent of that court ruling, because we’ll be back if you don’t.”
Other supporters included representatives of the Service Employees International Union, Culinary Union 226, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, For Nevada’s Future, and the Nevada Women’s Lobby.
Several Clark County School District students asked legislators to invest instead in public education that serve all students.
“I’m here to ask why – why would you want to take the money away from the kids who need it the most?” said Flor Herrera, a student at West Preparatory Academy. “My brother is a special needs child in the public schools. I’m here to fight for my rights, for my friends’ rights, and for his rights. This isn’t just important to parents, it’s important to the children in our schools.”
While some Nevada legislators are calling for $60 million in funds for vouchers, this experiment has proven to be unsuccessful in other states. The New York Times recently reported on several studies finding public school students who used vouchers in three states experienced significant decreases in student achievement.
“Vouchers undermine public education by diverting desperately needed resources away from our public school system to fund education for a few students at private schools that repeated studies prove do not improve academic achievement,” said Nancy Stiles of the American Association of University Women. “Voucher schemes fail students and taxpayers.”
Private schools in Nevada also discriminate against students and employees based on sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, and more, said Holly Welborn, Policy Director of the ACLU of Nevada. Private schools in Nevada also are not legally obligated to protect their students from bullying. Welborn called vouchers “state-sanctioned discrimination.”
Vouchers have proven to further segregate schools in other states.
“This is a racial justice issue,” said Stacey Shinn, policy director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “I don’t want my tax dollars going to a program that will facilitate segregation, discrimination, and stifle free speech.”
To read more about problems with vouchers, click here.