The results of the Nevada governor’s race show Republican Joe Lombardo edged his opponent, Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak, by a narrow margin, a victory that could be a loss for teachers’ unions. Sisolak conceded to Lombardo on Friday night.
Sisolak and Lombardo, the Clark County Sheriff, campaigned on school choice throughout their run, with Lombardo advocating school voucher programs and Sisolak opposing them.
Under a school voucher program, if parents wish to send their child to a school other than their district, they receive the taxes collected to fund public schools to offset the cost. Democrats often argue that this type of program diverts dollars from a public school system. Traditionally, teachers’ unions oppose school choice, but some parents argue that the only way to provide the best education for their child is to send the student to another school.
During Lombardo’s first term, voucher programs, which are not approved for use in Nevada, could be permitted.
“By expanding access to charter schools, providing more opportunity scholarships, and investing in college savings accounts, Joe believes we can make our education system work better for every student and every family.” , Lombardo’s website said.
Nevada’s public schools consistently rank among the worst in the nation, and some parents who prefer to send their children to charter or private schools could use vouchers to offset the cost. One of Lombardo’s first goals in office may be to allow voucher programs in Nevada, which would be a blow to some teachers’ unions in the state.
David Washington, a consultant to public relations firm PoliticalVIP, said the teachers’ union stance against school choice had everything to do with job security.
“They believe that if parents have the ability to place their child in the school or charter school of their choice, it will affect the number of teachers who can work in a particular public school and school district,” said Washington. Newsweek.
“Unions don’t support charter schools,” he continued. “They want kids to stay in the neighborhoods where they live. Once you start having charter schools, you run the risk of the public school population dwindling and teachers leaving.”
However, not all teachers’ unions in Nevada take the same position. One of the state’s largest teachers’ unions, the Clark County Education Association (CCEA), has not endorsed any of the gubernatorial candidates and said too much focus on school choice distracts voters and lawmakers about the larger issue: increased funding for public schools.
CAMC Executive Director John Vellardita said Newsweek that the bipartisan teachers’ union endorsed Sisolak in 2018 but that the CCEA found the governor had not fully delivered on the promises he made for education in his first term.
Instead, the CCEA funneled its resources into state races, advocating for Democratic candidates for the Nevada House and Senate.
Vellardita said the CCEA wants to keep public school dollars in the public school system and that the school choice is a diversion from the CCEA’s fight for more public school funding.
“Is this the holy grail fight for us? We don’t want to see public money leave the public school system,” he said of the voucher programs. “We don’t even have enough public money in the public school system to begin with. But we’re fighting for more money in the K-12 system than we do a big battle over money. leaving the system and entering any school choice program there is.”
Vellardita said he does not believe school choice is on such a scale that it threatens public education.
It remains to be seen what Lombardo will do regarding voucher schemes after taking office, but vouchers could be on his agenda.
Lombardo’s campaign and the Nevada State Education Association, which endorsed Sisolak for governor, did not respond to requests for comment.