(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Early applications for the Nevada ESA program show that a majority of applicants thus far come from well to do areas, and 21% of applicants thus far qualify for the higher amount for low-income families.
Maybe Howard Fuller was right? Nope- at least not yet. Let’s keep clear of the panic button.
The program does not commence until January, and so these applicants represent the earliest of early adopters. Efforts have commenced to raise awareness of the program in low-income areas, but such efforts take time. Nevada’s private school sector has a small footprint and it should not shock anyone that most private schools are located in relatively affluent areas- which will impact interest in the program.
It’s worth noting that many suburban Nevada schools have overcrowding issues, and spots opening in suburban districts create open-enrollment transfer opportunities for non-residents. Most important of all- NVESA is not a fire it and forget it program. We will need the efforts of both philanthropists and innovators in order to increase the supply of private school space in under-served areas. Sadly the two lawsuits attacking the program will likely slow this process to the detriment of low-income families. Moreover parents have the ability to pursue education outside of private schools under NVESA, but again, we should expect this to unfold incrementally over time.
NVESA is not a magic bullet, and it will not instantly transform education, dry every tear or solve every problem. This is a marathon, not a sprint.