Nevada has found itself near the bottom of another list.
A new ‘Grading the States’ report from the Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation for Public Education measured “commitment to democratically governed schools.” The report took into consideration the types and extent of school privatization, civil rights protections, transparency, accountability and oversight policies.
Nevada ranked 47th overall.
Only North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Arizona ranked worst.
On the other end of the spectrum, Nebraska ranked highest overall. North Dakota, West Virginia, South Dakota and Kentucky rounded out the top five overall, in descending order.
Affecting Nevada significantly was the impact that educational voucher and neo-voucher programs, such as tax credits for scholarships to private schools, have on its traditional public school districts. Nevada was also marked down for allowing for-profit management companies to run not-for-profit charter schools, for allowing taxpayer dollars to go toward private schools that are not accredited, and for failing to protect against religious discrimination within voucher programs.
Education has long been a hotly contested issue here in the Silver State, and disagreements about proposed educational savings accounts nearly brought the Legislature to a screeching halt last year, and while the law is still on the books, the program was not funded. Legislators and the governor eventually committed a one-time $20 million to “Opportunity Scholarships” instead. Locally, Clark County School District wants to begin pushing back against charter schools. This new report released today is built on a foundational belief that traditional public education systems are a fundamental part of the United States and need to be preserved – an argument some Nevadans disagree with.
Still, the report offers a look at where Nevada falls amid a national trend toward conversations about “school choice” and privatization.
The authors of the report argue in their conclusion: “True, it is easier to transfer public funds to private entities than to undertake the challenging work of fixing our public schools. But it is fruitless and short-sighted to divert resources from the public schools that serve the vast majority of students in this nation.”