NSEA is in strong opposition to the addition of $3,235,000 in federal American Rescue Plan funds for private school vouchers. The National Education Association was one of the leading advocates for the passage of the American Rescue Plan and worked closely with Congress on drafting the bill language.
Congress did not authorize the use of American Rescue Plan dollars for voucher programs at unaccountable private schools. Instead, these funds should be used in our public schools for things like staffing, school safety, extending learning opportunities and support programs, and strategies to meet the social, emotional, and mental health needs of our students. (See the attached National Education Association Report, “Federal Emergency Aid for Public Education, a Guide to Funding Amounts, Uses, and Requirements.”)
This proposal is only the latest example of misguided Nevada priorities under this administration. The Governor not only supports public money going to stadiums, he wants to spend public money on unaccountable private schools. Elected officials have the Constitutional obligation to fund Nevada’s public schools first, yet Nevada still ranks 48th in public school funding. While there were many congratulations about education funding last session, with record inflation in the previous biennium, increased funding will mainly be used to cover increased costs. In other words, Nevada public schools are still billions away from optimal funding, and state leaders have taken no steps to close this gap in the coming years.
This means the 90% of Nevada students in public school have the largest class sizes in the country. They are the most likely to show up to class with a long-term sub or no teacher at all. Supports from a counselor or school psychologist are often out of reach. Far too many Nevada students are in aging buildings that are uncomfortable or unsafe. And with the veto of universal school meals, many will face the stigma of a free school lunch or, even worse, go hungry.
Transferring more public tax dollars to private schools is the wrong answer and it always will be. Instead, Nevada should invest every available dollar to improve our public schools, available for every Nevada student. These resources are needed to address the challenges our public schools face today, including the crisis over overcrowded classrooms and educator vacancies.
NSEA urges the Interim Finance Committee to reject the Governor’s request. We must keep public money, state and federal, in public schools