Don't Bet Against Nevada, Gov. Sandoval Breaking Through on School Choice

Occasionally I like to take a peek around at other states and see if there’s anything Colorado can glean from them, or vice versa, or just to get a bigger picture of the education reform debate. Today let’s look west at Nevada. Why? Because of the new School Reform News story penned — er, keyboarded? — my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow:

As four school reform bills Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) successfully championed earlier in 2011 go into effect, Sandoval is redoubling efforts to expand school choice and end social promotion for third-graders who lack basic reading skills.

Nevada’s House and Senate are currently controlled by Democrats. During this last session, they refused to grant a hearing to a voucher bill Sandoval backed. Nevada lawmakers convene every other year, so the governor’s next crack at improving K-12 education will come in 2013.

A key insight that comes out in the story is the Nevada governor’s commitment to advancing a big plan that would give more families real choices about their learning options. And his staff is doing the homework to come up with the right plan. It sounds very promising.

The local Nevada Policy Research Institute is cheering for tuition tax credits. In a new Daily Caller column, Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute makes the case for such a program to help save state budgets — particularly focusing on a positive response to the strong, resounding No! Colorado voters gave to the Proposition 103 tax hike. DeGrow laid out the estimated savings in detail in his K-12 contribution to last year’s Citizens’ Budget.

Earlier this year the Colorado legislature gave some hope of at least moving the conversation forward on tuition tax credits, with House Bill 1048. Given the way it was treated in the legislative sausage-maker, it’s hard to see a clear path for the promising proposal in the imminent future.

But now is certainly not the time to give up. Especially not when Nevada may move forward with such a program in 2013 (it’s really not that far away, you know). Some might be skeptical of Governor Sandoval’s ability to pull together a winning coalition for a strong school choice bill, but the comments of some in the School Reform News story are quite encouraging. So when it comes to guessing whether Nevada might be among the next states to enact a private school choice program, all I can say is: Don’t bet against it!