Nevada Enacts Universal School Choice
On Tuesday night, Nevada governor Brian Sandoval signed into law the nation’s first universal school-choice program. That in and of itself is groundbreaking: The state has created an option open to every single public-school student. Even better, this option improves upon the traditional voucher model, coming in the form of an education savings account (ESA) that parents control and can use to fully customize their children’s education.
6月2日晚，内华达州普适择校方案经州长Brian Sandoval签署后成为法律，这是全国第一个普适择校方案。这本身是一个创举：每位公立学校的学生都将获得一个全新的选择。更妙的是，这一选择自由是对传统的教育券模式的进一步改良，家长将拥有一个教育储蓄账户（education saving account, ESA），可以完完全全地量身定制子女的教育。
Yes, school choice has often advanced through the introduction of vouchers and charter schools — which remain some of the most important reforms for breaking up the government education monopoly. But vouchers were, to quote researcher Matthew Ladner, “the rotary telephones of our movement — an awesome technology that did one amazing thing.” States such as Nevada (and Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee) have implemented the iPhone of choice programs. They “still do that one thing well, but they also do a lot of other things,” Ladner notes.
As of next year, parents in Nevada can have 90 percent (100 percent for children with special needs and children from low-income families) of the funds that would have been spent on their child in their public school deposited into a restricted-use spending account. That amounts to between $5,100 and $5,700 annually, according to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.
从明年起，Nevada将把拟用于公立学校学生的资金中的90%存入家长的指定用途消费账户（对于有特殊需求或贫困家庭的学生，转存比例是100%）。据Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice说，资金数额约在每年5100-5700美元之间。
Those funds are deposited quarterly onto a debit card, which parents can use to pay for a variety of education-related services and products — things such as private-school tuition, online learning, special-education services and therapies, books, tutors, and dual-enrollment college courses. It’s an à la carte education, and the menu of options will be as hearty as the supply-side response — which, as it is whenever markets replace monopolies, is likely to be robust.
Notably, families can roll over unused funds from year to year, a feature that makes this approach particularly attractive. It is the only choice model to date that puts downward pressure on prices. Parents consider not only the quality of education service they receive, but the cost, since they can save unused funds for future education expenses.
Accountability is infused throughout the ESA option. Funding is distributed into the accounts quarterly, and parents provide receipts for expenditures to the state. In the event there is a misuse of funds, the subsequent quarter’s distribution can be withheld and used to rectify it. Students must also take a national norm-referenced test in math and reading, a light touch that doesn’t dictate students take a uniform state test.
ESA方案设置了充分的问责机制。资金按季发放至各个账户，家长们则需向州里提供消费收据。一旦出现资金滥用，就可以扣留下一季度的分配资金用于纠正此前的滥用。学生们还必须参加数学和阅读常模参照测验（norm-referenced test）【译注：一种考评方式，评价的是被测者在同类人中的相对水平，而非知识或技能的绝对掌握程度，后一种测量通常要求采用标准参照测验（criterion-referenced test）】，这是一种轻规制（light touch）模式，不要求学生参加全州统考。
So imagine now what the future of education could look like in Nevada. Instead of being assigned to brick-and-mortar schools based on their parents’ ZIP codes, students can instead have their state funds deposited into an ESA. Parents can then craft a learning plan that matches best to the unique learning styles and needs of their children.
Perhaps that means Johnny spends the morning at a private school, and then in the afternoon gets private instruction in algebra from a tutor who meets him at home. At night, Johnny takes a dual-enrollment college course online.
The future of education financing is here. And the future is about separating the financing of education from the delivery of services. ESAs don’t dismantle public financing of education; they just recognize that education, although publicly financed, doesn’t have to be delivered through government schools.
Nevada understands that, and understands it to such an extent that state policymakers and Governor Sandoval went all-in with a universal option. In other words, families in the Silver State have struck gold.