It is impossible to overstate just how badly the Republican-controlled Nevada Legislature and our Republican governor screwed up the most exciting and promising school-choice program in the galaxy.
The fly-the-size-of-a-cow in the ointment continues to be the absurd and discriminatory requirement for parents of private school and home-schooled students to force their children into a government-owned/union-managed/bureaucrat-run public school for 100 days to qualify for an education savings account.
My wife and I are among the home-school parents in Nevada who bit the bullet and very reluctantly enrolled our kids in the public school system for this semester. What a nightmare. My kids hate it. My wife hates it.
And they're not too fond of me right now, either.
So the big question about the 100-day penalty is: Why?
One of the lame excuses being bandied about by some GOP legislators is that it was necessary to get Democrat votes to pass the bill. But that's total B.S.
Republicans had control of both the senate and the assembly and didn't need, or get, a single Democrat vote to pass SB302. So why penalize children to appease Democrats who weren't going to vote for the bill anyway? Duh.
The second excuse is that without the 100-day requirement the new education savings account program would have "blown a hole" in the budget. But if so, legislators must have been using public school math.
The fact is private schoolers and home-schoolers have been costing the government nothing in the education budget. Parents have been picking up the tab. But by forcing those kids into a public school this semester to qualify for an education savings account, now they are costing the government money it otherwise wouldn't have been spending. Duh.
And does anyone really believe that providing education savings accounts for four semesters instead of three during the two-year budget cycle would have blown a hole in the budget that couldn't have been covered by either reprioritizing other education spending or funding them with money from the obscene $1.4 billion tax hike that Gov. Brian Sandoval shoved down our throats?
That said, let's accept the false argument that the only way to afford the new education savings account program was to allow it for the past three semesters instead of all four. OK, fine.
In that case, then why, oh why, incur the additional per-pupil costs by forcing private and home-school kids into a public school for the first semester of the budget cycle instead of simply saying you can't open and start an education savings account until the second semester of the budget cycle? Duh.
The public excuses being put forward by GOP legislators who blew this golden opportunity (as usual) by needlessly forcing private school and home-school kids into a public school for 100 days are total B.S. If Gov. Sandoval really cared about children and education, like he claims, he'd call a special session tomorrow to repeal this discriminatory and outrageous 100-day penalty.
Alas, our governor's initials aren't B.S. for nothing.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.muthstruths.com.