ON-Lion Letter
In May, a Nevada state trial-court judge dismissed one of two lawsuits that seek to dismantle Nevada's groundbreaking Education Savings Account (ESA) program, which allows parents to use the funds deposited in their student's ESA on a wide variety of educational options.  Judge Eric Johnson of the Eighth Judicial District Court for Clark County ruled that the ESA program complies with the Nevada Constitution's requirement to fund education "by all suitable means" and  that the program has no unconstitutional "sectarian purpose."  The ruling follows a string of decisions from other states that have upheld school-choice programs against similar attacks.

The "decision is a powerful rebuke to the idea that school-choice programs undermine education," said Tim Keller, managing attorney for the Institute for Justice's (IJ) Arizona office.  "The Nevada ESA program contains both hallmarks of a constitutional school-choice program:  parents, not the government, decide where their children go to learn, and the government stays entirely neutral with respect to religion." 

IJ represents six Nevada parents who have been approved for ESAs, including Liz Robbins -- who has seven children, three of whom have a severe tissue disorder that requires constant medical attention.  Despite their need for this care, public schools do not provide it.

ESAs are a cutting edge reform in finding ways to educate a booming population amidst strained state budgets.  The ESA program deposits money into accounts controlled by participating parents, who then use it to design a customized education for their children.  ESA funds may be used to enroll in private schools, hire tutors, buy textbooks and curricula, and even pick and choose among individual courses at public schools and universities.

"ESAs hand the reins over to parents," explained Keith Diggs, also an IJ attorney in Arizona.  "Kids don’t deserve to be stuck in a school that doesn't suit them.  ESAs will open up a huge array of options and create a market where parents can seek out the education their kids need."

Johnson's decision does not affect the injunction issued by a different Nevada court last January.  That case is currently on appeal at the Nevada Supreme Court, where IJ continues its fight against the injunction.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports IJ.
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