Today, congressional candidate and for Nevada’s 3rd congressional district “Big Dan” Rodimer called for the immediate passage of the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act for the purposes of accomplishing three major goals: (1) getting Nevada kids back into classrooms full time in the fall, (2) getting our teachers and parents back to work full time, and (3) helping promote parental and school choice to help Nevada lawmakers deal with our state’s budget shortfall in Carson City.  

Last week, Rodimer held a press conference where he called for public schools to resume full time, in-class instruction for the fall semester.  He outlined a 6-point plan to accomplish this goal, which is shared by many parents and teachers throughout southern Nevada.

“As we continue to address the pandemic and the adverse affects it’s had on our children, their parents, teachers, workers, employers and our state budget, it is critically important that we promote solutions-based policies that are proven to be effective,” Rodimer stated.  “We have a lot of important work in front of us and countless people who are committed to getting our schools opened safely, and our parents back to work.  

“This Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act will help provide much-needed resources to those Nevada parents and families most in need.  Wealthier families are not our highest concern right now, as they have a better ability to ride out the pandemic and exercise school choice options for their kids.  Lower income families and kids are my highest priority.  These families have fewer employment options, if any, and they have little if any opportunity to leave closed, partially-closed, or failing schools.”

The Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act (H.R. 1434) will help provide thousands of Clark County students and over 1 million school kids nationwide the freedom to attend a school of their choice, and will bolster existing state scholarship programs and encourage implementation of additional education freedom policies.  Nevada has the Opportunity Scholarships program, which was passed and signed into law in 2015 under Governor Brian Sandoval.  The program allows taxpaying entities to invest in the program for a tax credit to allow lower income families to access scholarships so parents have the freedom to send their children to schools that better fits their kids’ needs.  

This federal act would create a $5 billion annual tax credit for donations to programs like Nevada’s Opportunity Scholarships program, where the parameters of the funding would be controlled by state and local officials, instead of Washington bureaucrats.  The funding helps families offset the costs of such things as tuition, transportation and tutoring.  

Numerous studies, and most importantly, already implemented school choice programs all across the nation demonstrate how effective they are for children and parents, particularly those in lower income categories.  It’s no wonder that a recent survey showed 78% support for Education Freedom Scholarships, including from African Americans and Latinos at 83%. 

One such study, recently cited by the nonpartisan Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI), demonstrates that “school choice programs actually increase per-pupil funding for students who remain in public schools.”  The think tank points that taxpayers are spending more than $10,000 per pupil when state and local revenues are taken into account.  NPRI continues stating that “scholarships awarded through programs like Opportunity Scholarships are valued at several thousand dollars less on an annualized basis.  Thus, for every student who utilizes a scholarship to attend a private school of his or her own choosing, the state saves thousands in costs.

These savings can then be reinvested in the traditional K-12 system to increase per-pupil funding … specifically targeting underserved student populations who are most in need of additional education funding.”  

NPRI’s own detailed report on this from 2018 found that expanding Nevada’s Opportunity Scholarship program “to allow for 25,000 participating students could have the effect of increasing K-12 per-pupil funding by approximately $235 – mimicking the effects of an additional $116 million in annual education funding.”

“As I stated last week, let’s listen to the nearly 100,000 nonpartisan experts and scientists within the American Academy of Pediatricians who have urged schools to open up in the fall,” continued Rodimer.  “Let’s listen to nonpartisan policy and budget experts who tell us we can help address the budget shortfall by implementing and bolstering Nevada school choice programs.  Let’s listen to Nevada parents who are eager to get back to work full time and want the assurance that their kids will be in school full time.  And let’s get the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act passed in Congress and on to the President’s desk, where he said he would gladly sign this bill into law.”

“Big Dan” Rodimer is a member of the Clark County School District School Safety Advisory Committee.  In addition, Rodimer has worked with Child Haven to help provide needed resources for the program that assists neglected and abused children in Clark County.