Libertarians believe competition in education between private and public organizations will lead to a better education system along with more parental influence in their children's education.
Nevada often ranks last or close to last on education. Libertarian reforms would immediately and dramatically improve the quality of education in this state. For years, our politicians have made “education reform” a priority. They say reform, but they mean spending. According to the Brookings Institution, per pupil spending on education has more than tripled relative to inflation in the past 40 years, but results have remained stagnant. According to Transparent Nevada, there were 3,070 Clark County School District employees earning over $100,000 per year. Very few of these employees are actually teachers. The idea that spending yet more more money will do anything to improve the quality of education in Nevada is demonstrably false. And yet, a $1.4 billion “education tax”--the largest tax hike in Nevada history--was the cornerstone achievement of Governor Sandoval and the Republican Legislature in 2015.
It’s time for a new approach. Market forces would make cheaper, higher quality education available to more students. Before any additional money is allocated to education, Libertarians demand full transparency from all school districts which includes all expenditures so a true per pupil cost can be identified by each school district. Additionally, each school district should maintain a searchable online database of their finances so the taxpayers can see where their money is going.
According to a 2013 study by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, Nevadans spend more per pupil than a majority of their regional neighbors--and that was before the largest tax hike in history was dedicated almost entirely to new spending on education. Yet, children in Nevada outscore only those of California, another high spending state. The problem is structural, not funding‐related. The only meaningful reform passed in 2015 was the Educational Savings Account plan (ESAs), which is a good start, if only anyone can figure out how they work. In 2011, lawmakers agreed to legislation creating an alternative teacher‐ certification program, a statewide charter school authority, a meaningful evaluation system for teachers and a teacher merit‐pay program. Lawmakers need to remain vigilant so that the regulations implementing these changes are not written so narrowly as to reduce their impact. Moreover, those reforms should be regarded as merely the beginning and not the end. School choice programs (such as tax‐credit scholarship programs) and the expansion of online learning will boost student achievement very cost‐effectively.
Nevada should establish a "Recovery School District." Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize failure factories. If a government school cannot meet the educational needs of Nevada families, then it should close and have its staff reorganized and, potentially, be converted into a charter school. Lawmakers can model this change after Louisiana's Recovery School District — a special statewide school district that helps failing schools transition into successful charter schools.
With or without this program, Nevada should increase the number of charter schools. Charter schools are an important component of school choice. State laws governing charter schools should grant as much flexibility as possible to administrators and allow for open entry of online charter schools.