School choice advocates launch quarter-million dollar ad campaign supporting Governor

Education has been front and center for many lawmakers during the 2023 Legislative Session.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 12:08 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Education has been front and center for many lawmakers during the 2023 Legislative Session. Governor Joe Lombardo is calling the education budget from state lawmakers “unacceptable” saying it does not consider his priorities including increased safety measures for schools and more funding for families to choose charter schools. One group is now stepping in to back him in a big way.

Those supporting school choice, public funding for students who want attend charter schools, are behind the governor. Monday, the American Federation for Children (AFC) launched a quarter-million dollar ad campaign targeting lawmakers who voted against expanding school choice. One ad states:

“Nevada’s schools aren’t safe. Instead of better grades, our kids worry about gangs, bullying, and shootings. It’s time they had options. But Nevada’s democrat leaders are standing in the way. Luckily, Governor Lombardo has a plan that allows parents to send their child to a school of their choice.”

The advertisement is now running on Spanish television stations throughout Nevada.

“If you look at the Nevada Report Card, you see that our kids are not reading at grade level at all levels and not performing in math. Unfortunately, our communities of color suffer the consequences of a system that has been failing us for decades,” argued Valeria Gurr with the school choice advocacy group.

AFC will spend at least $250,000 on television and digital advertisements calling out Nevada legislators who rejected the Republican governor’s school choice proposal. They say a lack of choice keeps Hispanic families trapped in unsafe learning environments.

“The only ones that don’t have options are the ones that don’t have the money to afford it and who do you think it is? It’s the communities of color,” Gurr asserted.

Last month, a packed hearing on an education budget bill included debate on school choice. The bill would increase funding for opportunity scholarships to $500 million over the next two years allowing more low-income families a choice in which school they attend. Fixing Nevada’s schools and expanding school choice are issues Governor Lombardo campaigned on now, and now are promises he’s looking to fulfill.

“I have been working for school choice for over a decade and I have never seen this much momentum,” Gurr shared.

Opponents to increasing funding for school choice including teachers unions. They argue it would take away much-needed money away from traditional public schools.

There’s also a standoff between the governor and the legislature over school safety. A Senate Committee pushed through a bill the governor says does not go far enough to punish violent students. His own proposal, which makes it easier to remove those students from classrooms, did not pass the same committee.

Governor Lombardo also wants to give more funding to schools proposing a $2 billion budget.

All bills face a Friday deadline.

Senate Democrats sent this response:

“Senate Democrats passed a budget with historic funding for public education, including record funding for both traditional public schools and public charter schools. Senate Republicans voted against this budget multiple times in committee and are likely going to oppose it on the Senate floor. Nevada’s public schools have significant needs, including insufficient teacher salaries which have led to high vacancy rates and classrooms without a qualified teacher. Considering those circumstances, it would be irresponsible of the Governor to veto the education budget in an attempt to divert tens of millions of public education dollars to subsidize a private school voucher program.”