With public education sprinting to the forefront among heated issues heading into the 2022 midterm elections—and having witnessed parental rights and school choice propel Glenn Youngkin to Virginia’s governor mansion—, majority of Republicans in the Nevada Legislature have signed the Education Freedom Pledge pledge. It states: “I pledge to support policies that promote parental rights in education and educational freedom. This includes the right of parents to voice their opinions at school board meetings and to take their children’s taxpayer-funded education dollars to the education providers of their choosing – whether it be a public, private, charter, or home school.”
This pledge can be found on Education Freedom Pledge website founded by The American Federation of Children. The federation’s mission is to “seek to empower families, especially lower-income families, with the freedom to choose the best K-12 education for their children.”
The Nevada Assembly GOP Caucus is only the second state with an entire caucus to sign the pledge.
BREAKING: Nevada is now the second state with an entire caucus to sign the Education Freedom Pledge (@NVGOPAssembly).
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) November 11, 2021
Senators Scott Hammond, Carrie Buck, Keith Pickard, Joe Hardy, and Ira Hanson have signed the pledge. Sen. James Settelmeyer has termed out; Sen. Donald Tatro was recently appointed to fill former Sen. Ben Keikhoffer’s district; leaving Pete Goicoechea and Heidi Gansert as the lone Republicans who have yet to sign the pledge.
School boards across Nevada have been plagued with controversy as districts try to defend failing testing scores and what some parents see as a social justice curriculum.
In October, the Washoe County School District rescinded plans to implement a curriculum on social justice for elementary school students and will instead consider forming a task force to review what will be taught in classrooms. According to MSN, this revision was in response to school board protests, public comments and “a survey of 1,436 staff, parents, and community members, nearly 85 percent were opposed to introducing the lessons, calling it inappropriate and un-American. Other feedback included that it was political, taught racism and sexism against white males and that the district should focus on reading, math and science.”
As reported by The Globe, the fifth largest school district in the country, the Clark County School district faces similar parental backlash, school board dysfunction, and poor educational outcomes. Recent test scores of 3rd to 8th grade students, taken and published by Smart Balance Assessments, show that only 3.9% of Black students and 7.4% of Hispanic students were proficient in Math. In English, 11.2% of Black students and 15.7% of Hispanic students were proficient. Overall, only 20 percent of Clark County students tested proficient in English Language Arts. In math, it was 11.5 percent.
As Democrats have redistricted Nevada into a supermajority, Republicans are hoping voters are “mad as hell” and will look for a red wave needed to increase their representation throughout the state. Education might just be the lightening rod that paves their road to victory.
(Prior to publication, The Globe reached out to Sen. Goicoechea and Sen. Gansert for comment and will update this article with their responses).
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