Self-funded Homeschool Freedom vs. Public-funded “School Choice”

The 2017 Nevada Legislative session ended without the NV-ESA being funded!  But homeschool parents and advocates must stay engaged in the debate over “government funded school choice” and the impact on freedom.  Education Liberty, or Ed Liberty for short, must be preserved.
Originally passed in 2015 but never funded due to lawsuits against the program the NV-ESA created deep concerns for homeschool and private school freedom. As feared, the 2017 NV legislative session showed that accepting taxpayer money WILL increase regulation of the education being provided to the child in a private school depending on who controls the Legislature, Conceptual Amendment to Sb506, the ESA funding bill.
We must understand and proclaim the Biblical truth that ALL parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their own children, not the state. When private schools/parents accept “taxpayer funding” the government sets up “accountability” measures that will limit their Liberty, that is not “freedom of choice.”



12/18/2017 – There’s a Due Process Problem with Homeschool Regulations (Foundation for Economic Education)

11/20/2017Accountability a Question in Nevada School Choice Program (Associated Press)

Interesting article discussing a regulation, NAC 385.606, passed in October, 2015 by the NV State Board of Education requiring private schools to test NV Choice Scholarship pupils enrolled in their school with an annual “state approved” norm-referenced assessment.  However, in a review of hearings on the bill AB 165 establishing the program during the 2015 Legislative session, it is clearly record there would be no state approved annual testing requirement on these children as a form a “accountability” to the state.  In fact, then Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dale Erquiaga, clearly stated for the record that an “annual test” would not be required for Choice Scholarship students and specifically said on 4/2/15 before the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development,

“I understand your question and direct you to section 5, subsection 5 of A.B. 165, located on page 5, which requires the Department of Education to adopt a reporting mechanism through regulation to keep track of the academic progress taken together, not pupil by pupil. Private schools that accept scholarship students shall be required to report the academic progress of these students to the Department in order to compare progress between private and public schools. This would preclude the Department from imposing State standards or State testing on private schools. However, the Department could develop a mechanism to keep track of academic standards.” [Emphasis added]

But obviously the NV Department of Education and the NV State Board of Education have decided they are authorized to not only mandate that private schools use an annual norm-referenced assessment test to determine academic progress of a Choice Scholar recipient, the state must also “approve” the test used.  Sounds like another “regulation” approved by a state board without the legal authority to do so… at least to us.  But since this program thankfully does not affect homeschooled children, NHN will let private schools figure this out for themselves.

6/29/2017 – Homeschoolers Don’t Need Federal Help (American Spectator)

6/13/2017 – 2017 Legislative Session Wrap-up (NHN)

6/9/17 – EdChoice vows to continue fighting for direct taxpayer funding of ESAs in Nevada

Robert Enlow, President of EdChoice (formerly Friedman Foundation, headquartered in Indiana), who wrote the NV-ESA bill in 2015 (SB 302, Hammond) is determined to push the cause to fund ESAs in Nevada in 2019 (SB 506, the 2017 funding bill for the ESA program, failed to pass) – The Education Examination:  What did lawmakers do for students, teachers this session? (The Nevada Independent).

“Some Nevada Republicans vowed to continue the fight for school choice. So did the leader of EdChoice, a national organization dedicated to advancing school choice.

“I don’t think the legislators listened to parents,” said Robert Enlow, the president and CEO of EdChoice. “I think this is a bipartisan failure — not simply a Republican or Democrat failure.”

Enlow said he expects the thousands of Nevada families who were on ESA waiting lists to continue pressuring lawmakers to fund the program in 2019. He also lobbed some of the blame on Sandoval, saying he wished the Republican governor would have “stayed true to his word” and flexed his leadership muscle to ensure the school-choice program moved forward.

“Nevada may have had a hiccup, but it certainly didn’t stop the momentum,” Enlow said.”


6/9/2017 – Buyer Beware: School Choice and Voucher Programs Require Alignment With Common Core  (


6/8/2017 – Irony of ESA defeat: Democrats vote to expand school choice (click for video)

What Victor Joecks of the Las Vegas Review Journal fails to understand is that the Opportunity Scholarship program is limited to private school (Licensed or Exempt) enrollment ONLY and that these children will not be FORCED to be “accountable to the state” through annual standardized testing. Instead, they will enjoy the same FREEDOM that their private school classmates enjoy… the chance to academically progress as determined by their teachers rather than prove what they’ve learned on a test. That is why the Governor’s Opportunity Scholarship is superior to the ESA program… but no one seems to notice or be concerned with the “Liberty” issue for both the ESA students and the private schools accepting these students.

There is already a certain amount of freedom (though not enough in our opinion) for exempt private schools in Nevada under current law and regulations. But the Democrats proved that the ESA program will be regulated to death with their Conceptual Amendment to Sb506 offered in the 11th hour.

Let’s work to increase the donation limits to Opportunity Scholarships and broaden the income eligibility of the OS program to allow middle class students the chance for “choice” rather than restricting the ability of private schools to educate children as they and parents determine to be best, free from government controls that come with direct taxpayer funding.

As Jane Robbins of American Principals Project points out, “While efforts to shatter the government monopoly on education are laudable, extreme caution must be exercised to ensure – if this is even possible – that when government money follows the child, government regulations don’t follow as well.”…/19/first-look-at-gop-platform/


6/6/2017 – NV Legislature ends without funding the NV-ESA.

Instead, a one-time “donation” was made by the Legislature to Governor Sandoval’s Opportunity Scholarship program (created in 2015) for low-income students to attend private schools.  The upside of this program is that children attending private schools using scholarship funds enjoy the same ability to achieve academic progress as their private-funded classmates as determined by the private school and NOT “accountability” through a “state-approved” norm-referenced achievement examinations in mathematics and English language arts each school year .  Further, private schools are FREE to operate under existing state law without the over-burdensome regulations being debated for the unfunded NV-ESA program.

More information on Opportunity Scholarships:

Wrap up articles on the 2017 NV Legislative Session:
The Nevada Independent, Reno Gazette-Journal, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada Appeal


6/2/2017 10:15 pm –

As the saying goes… “It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings!” Republican legislators gain unexpected leverage in push for ESAs

6/2/2017 – Looking less and less like that the NV-ESA will be funded this session… time is running out, Legislature ends 6/5/17 at midnight and the Governor says, “No Special Session!”

We wish that proponents of government funds following the child for their education in Nevada had used a better vehicle than the state funded ESA proposal. As homeschoolers in this state know all to well from our own history, government bureaucrats love to “control” the actions of citizens via statute and regulation.

As the Democrats’ Conceptual Amendment to Sb506 to the 2017 ESA funding bill, SB 506, demonstrated, taxpayer funds = government controls. The risk to Liberty of private schools to operate separate from governmental controls is just too great when attempting to access “public” funds.

Personal tuition tax-credits such as the federal Coverdell ESA (parents save their own money to pay tuition expenses “tax free” like Health Savings Accounts) are much more effective and less problematic. Granted Nevadan’s don’t pay state income tax but other ways to help parents choose a different education option for their children could have been found without burdening private schools with “accountability” to state government.

Texas has also been squabbling over “universal” government funded ESAs during their legislative session this year which prompted HSLDA to explain the differences;


 5/30/2017 – UPDATE on SB 506, ESA Funding Bill

At 3:00 pm on Memorial Day the Democratic controlled NV Legislature scheduled a 6:00 pm surprise “joint” (Sen. Finance & Assembly Ways & Means) hearing on “the Governor’s” ESA bill, SB 506! Barbara Dragon read the email from the Assembly W&M at 4:30 and jetted up to Carson City.

It was NOT pretty… the upshot, Democrats: “We’ll consider a new ‘business tax-credit scholarship’ bill (instead of funding the ESA from the state’s general fund) with tighter controls including non-discrimination laws and anti-bullying laws applied to private schools who take the funding.” Yup, there is NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH!

Barb testified on behave of NHN as “neutral” in order to clarify that in the bill “homeschoolers” were specifically denied access to the funding (Section 25, Subsection 2) at our request in 2015 and again this year. The need to testify was due to a Conceptual Amendment to Sb506 introduced by the Democrats Monday evening.  In the conceptual amendment, they used the word “homeschooling” when referring to an “ESA Opt-in Child receiving education from the parent who applies to be a Participating Entity.”

NHN’s position –

  • Homeschooling is covered in separate statute, NRS 388D.010-.070.  
  • The ESA Opt-in Child is defined in NRS 388D.100-.700.
  • Two separate statutes, two different set of rules.
  • By law, “homeschooling” is defined as parents taking “full responsibility” for the education of their children, including the financial burden.  Homeschool parents don’t want money from the state, just their freedom.
  • As negotiations move forward on “government funded school choice,” we call on NV Legislators to not confuse “private, self-funded homeschooling” with an “ESA Parent Participating Entity” providing a home based education to their child as has been continually done in the news media.
  • The Conceptual Amendment to Sb506 substantially alters the program and restricts the freedom of private schools to operate free from burdensome government control.  This is something NHN has been warning could happen ever since the introduction and final passage of SB 302 in 2015

Media Reports:

Reno-Gazette Journal – No deal yet on ed savings accounts; GOP members not pleased

Nevada Appeal – Nevada Legislature: No vouchers deal, yet; Lawmakers facing deadline to shut down June 5th

Las Vegas Review Journal – Education savings accounts get hearing but no action in Carson City

Las Vegas Sun – Future uncertain for Nevada tuition, school supplies voucher

The Nevada Independent – Fragile compromise on ESA seems further off after Democrats call surprise hearing

  • THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT (from Nevada Independent article):Negotiations over the past few days were largely in the hands of Anderson and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, who were reportedly close to reaching a compromise Monday morning before Democrats abruptly scheduled the hearing in the early afternoon. Sandoval’s chief of staff Mike Willden said before the hearing that they had received no advance notice of what amendment Democrats planned to propose.The proposed conceptual amendment, presented by Watkins but discussed behind the scenes in recent days between leadership, would substantially alter the original bill.“This isn’t about my personal beliefs,” Watkins said. “This is about the beliefs that I think can be supported on both sides of the aisle and actually make it to the governor’s desk.”Key points include:
    • Creating a tax credit structure for ESAs similar to the system in place for Opportunity Scholarships, a scholarship program approved in 2015 that gives businesses tax breaks on their Modified Business Tax (on payroll) for donating money to scholarship programs.
    • Capping tax credits at $15 million per year for a total of $30 million over the two years of the budget.
    • Starting the program in January 2018.
    • Determining eligibility based on a sliding scale based on parental income — families at 185 percent of the federal poverty line would receive $7,000, more than the per pupil spending that exists now, and families at 10 times the poverty line would receive about $600.
    • Gives priority to 1 and 2 star schools, Title 1, students who need special education, foster kids, reservations, military kids and other students with learning disabilities.
    • Require schools be in operation for at least a year, accredited by the state or independent accrediting agency, located in Nevada, have a licensed administrator on staff and adopt non-discriminatory language in their bylaws.
    • Allows additional uses for funds including internet service provider expenses, computer purchase and uniforms, if required by the school.
    • Prohibits schools from charging ESA students more than non-ESA students
    • Implement an undefined “funding cap” based on a proportional share of students in the school district.


5/23/2017 – Just to be clear, we need to say it again as we continue to read false claims in the media saying that parents may use the ESA to “homeschool.”  NO, they may not!

If the NV-ESA is funded via SB 506 during the 2017 Legislative session, parents who use the funding to provide an education to their child will NOT be legally “homeschooling.”  It may seem like splitting hairs but we want LEGISLATORS and all government officials to understand to that there is a difference.

Two different sections of law, two different sets of “rules.”

Please read on in this blog for a DETAILED explanation of issues with the NV-ESA.

We also discuss the idea of the federal government funding education outside the public school system here.



Why Conservatives Should Rethink Their Support for School Vouchers

by Lisa Hudson, The National Pulse


1/23/2017 – Question:  Why shouldn’t NV Legislator’s regulate self-funded homeschooling if they vote for funding the ESA program that does come under government control?

Answer:  Parents have the fundamental right to direct the health, education, and welfare of the child which is upheld in Nevada statute, case law and by the US Supreme Court. Homeschool parents in Nevada who do not accept taxpayer funding have the ultimate right and responsibility to ensure that their children are educated within the framework of the child’s age and abilities, as determined by the parent. However, the court may intercede in the event of “education neglect” as allowed in NV statute. So, in Nevada the “best interest” of a child who is homeschooled is determined by their parents or guardians, not the government, which is in line with the views of delegates to the 1884 writing of the Nevada Constitution and upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.


2016 – Nevada Supreme Court finds NV ESA constitutional but the funding mechanism unconstitutional.

In late 2015, two lawsuits were filed to stop implementation of the NV ESA program established by SB 302.  While the the court found the ESA constitutional it found that the way in which the 2015 Legislature funded the program unconstitutional and thus the ESA program in non-operational until such time as the law is funded correctly (not from the Distributive School Account for Public Schools).

However, the decision handed down by the NV Supreme Court on September 29, 2016 in Schwartz v. Lopez revealed some noteworthy comments with regards to the rights of parents in making decisions regarding their children’s education.  The court found that delegates to Nevada State Constitutional Convention of 1864 discussed the education of Nevada children in depth, “And although the debates surrounding the enactment of Article 11 reveal that the delegates discussed the establishment of a system of public education and its funding, they also noted the importance of parental freedom over the education of their children, rejected the notion of making public school attendance compulsory, and acknowledged the need to vest the Legislature with discretion over education into the future.” (Page 19) [Emphasis added]

In addition to referencing original documents from the 1864 Constitutional Convention, the court also references a Nevada Supreme Court Summary,  Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts- A Constitutional Analysis by Thomas W. Stewart and Brittany Walker.   Comments relative to parental choice and control of their children’s education are highlighted on pages 12-15.  This discussion, sometime in the future, may be of great importance to parents choosing to homeschool their children (free from government funding/control) should the Nevada Legislature attempt to infringe on the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.


Blog Update:  January 22, 2017 – Barbara Dragon, NHN Officer Emeritus (original article written March, 2016)

 Click here for printable version of 1/22/2017 update.

Self-funded Private Education vs. Government Funded School Choice:

The Liberty of Parents and Private Schools vs. Government Control

  1. Nevada’s “Education Savings Account” program now being proclaimed “the model” for other states in the publicly funded “school choice” debate.  Or is it? 

Background:  During the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session, State Senator Scott Hammond requested a Bill Draft Resolution (BDR) for a government funded alternative education option for Nevada K-12 students. The Friedman Foundation (renamed Ed Choice in 2016) assisted Senator Hammond in the writing of SB 302, the Nevada Education Savings Account bill.  What makes Nevada’s ESA unique from existing smaller programs in four other states (Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee) is that it is “universal”, meaning it is not “means” or “needs” tested and is available to all NV public school students enrolled for a minimum of 100 days regardless of family income level or school failure rates.

Authors of SB 302 proclaimed, “It allows parents to remove their children from their assigned public schools and access a portion or all of their children’s public education funding to pay for services like private school tuition, curriculum, learning therapies, tutoring and more.” [i] This new program passed the 2015 NV Legislature along strict party lines (all Republicans in support, all Democrats opposed).[ii] [1]  Currently, state legislatures in Texas, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and even President-elect Trumps’ new administration are mulling government funded ESAs to expand “school choice” in 2017 and the Nevada ESA program is the model for many of the proposals.

An Education Savings Account (ESA) program is different from a “voucher” they say, since money from the state’s Distributive School Account (DSA) is not being paid directly from the state to a religious private school (Blaine Amendments in many state constitutions prohibit the use of public funding for sectarian purposes).  Rather, the money (between $5,100 to $5,700 in NV) is to go from the state’s Distributive School Account into the Education Savings Account in the name of the child, whose parents then choose from government “approved” resources where to spend the money so that the child receives an education as compelled by state compulsory attendance laws.[iii]  This, proponents say, means the parent, not the state, is choosing the education modality for the child and the parent is then “empowered” to choose a private religious school or use religious materials for the education of their child. The NV Supreme Court upheld this in Schwartz v. Lopez.[iv]  However, this new “empowerment” called “school choice” is still controlled by government when compared to self-funded, private homeschooling that is rooted in the parent’s right to direct the education of their child, free from government control, in other words, Education Liberty.

[1] NOTE:  Two lawsuits were filed in NV District Court in late 2015 against the new ESA program.  Both lawsuits were heard before the Nevada Supreme court and a final decision was handed down on September 29, 2016.  Although the court ruled that the ESA law does not violate the Blaine Amendment in the Nevada Constitution and allows the Legislature to use public dollars to fund an ESA program, the Legislature did violate the NV Constitution by passing the ESA bill prior to passing the education funding bill.  The NV Constitution requires that the public schools be funded before any other budget item is approved in our bi-annual sessions.  Further, the court seemed to imply that money allocated by the Legislature to the public schools cannot be used to fund an ESA for a Nevada school-age child.  This has been a pivotal element of the Ed Choice ESA school choice initiative.  Consequently, a new “funding source” will need to be found and approved by the Nevada Legislature in 2017 if the program is to see the light of day.  Further, a new funding source may impact the rest of the mechanics of the NV-ESA program and raise a new threat to private and home school autonomy.


  1. The ESA law has muddied the waters for homeschoolers in Nevada!

Many parents eager to receive state funding for the education of their children are saying that the new NV-ESA program is “just a different way of homeschooling”, it is not!  Further, some elected officials are now quick to venture into this new area of “public/private ventures” in order to give parents a “choice”, at tax-payer’s expense, in the education the child receives putting other’s freedom at risk.  Let me explain.

First and foremost, Nevada parents, who choose to use the ESA program, will NOT be “homeschooling” under NV statute. Two statutes, NRS 392.070(2) and 388D.020 allow parents, who receive NO MONEY from the state, to educate their children free from government control, although educational abuse and neglect statutes do apply as safeguards.[v]  Second, “homeschooling” is legally defined in Nevada Revised Statutes, NRS 385.007(3) differentiating it from “home based education” through the NV-ESA.[vi] And while imitation is the best form of flattery, Nevada Homeschool Network (NHN) became alarmed when Senator Hammond introduced an amended version of his original ESA bill in April of 2015 that no one had been able to read prior to the hearing in the NV Senate Education Committee (this seems to be a pattern repeating itself in other states in 2016 and 2017 as ESA bills are being mulled over… but not available for public review).  The proposed ESA language threatened the autonomy of self-funded homeschoolers in Nevada.

NHN initially opposed the bill, SB 302, as introduced due to the Senator’s references to homeschooling in his verbal introduction of the bill.[vii]  Both public school and homeschool students (but not existing private school students) were to be able to access ESA funding.[viii]  Further, the Senator’s initial version attempted to use the NV homeschool law as the vehicle for this new program, blurring the distinction between a self-funded homeschool child and a child receiving a “home based” education through the government approved ESA program.  However, Senator Hammond agreed to work with NHN to address our concerns.  As a result, NHN offered an amendment to SB 302 that protected NV homeschooling but established an ESA “Opt-in Child.”[ix]

The amendment proposed by NHN created a fourth option for parents to meet the compulsory attendance law, NRS 392.040 (requires a child between the age of 7 and 18 to be enrolled in a Nevada public school or receive an exemption).[x]  In addition to a public school, a private school, or a homeschool; parents of children enrolled in a public school will be able to apply for a NV-ESA grant and the child approved for the ESA program will legally be classified as an “Opt-in Child”.  These children will receive their education from an “approved” Participating Entity (PE) under the oversight of the NV State Treasurer (NST) and to a lesser extent, the NV Department of Education (NV-DOE).[xi]

Proof of this “muddying of the waters” affect has since filled pages of articles, editorials, and blogs across the country on how the government funded ESAs will provide parents more “school choice”, including “homeschooling.”  But the “unintended consequence” is that government funded ESAs have also created the opportunity for critics of a parent’s right to self-fund and direct the education of their child FREE from government control to call for more regulation of “homeschooling” whether it is funded by the government or not.  For instance, merely by substituting the word “home-school” for an “ESA Opt-in Child”, a NV teacher’s union lobbyist is now proving our point by seemingly calling for tighter rules “on homeschooling” if the NV-ESA is to be funded as stated by John Vellardita, Executive Director of Clark County Education Association, “…means testing or tightening the rules for home-school parents could potentially be among the union’s proposals regarding ESAs.”[xii] Granted, Mr. Vellardita probably doesn’t even know the legal distinction but that was the very point we were trying to make to the Nevada Legislature two years ago!

Just as people often confuse “virtual charter schools” attended by public school children “at home” with “parent funded/directed homeschooling”, government funded ESAs will added another layer of confusion in the minds of everyone!  This “muddying of the waters” will bring into question just who IS ultimately responsible to provide education to children, the parent(s) or the state?  Thankfully, US Supreme Court decisions through the years have agreed that parents have the fundamental right to direct the education of their child and are therefore ultimately responsible for the education of the child.[xiii]  Despite these decisions; elected officials, “think tanks”, journalists, and others have a tendency to infringe on these rights with support for “well-meaning” but none-the-less invasive government programs without regard for Education Liberty.


  1. Applications, approvals, regulations, and requirements – let’s understand a government funded ESA (not to be confused with a parent-funded “Coverdell” ESA).

To qualify for the NV-ESA program, a child must first be enrolled full-time in a public school or public charter school for not less than 100 consecutive days just prior to applying for the ESA grant.[xiv]  Current private school and/or homeschool children are not eligible.  However, these children may enroll in a public school for 100 days to become eligible relinquishing their private school or homeschool status.

Once approved for the ESA, parents may then choose an approved Participating Entity (PE) to provide education to the child.  A Nevada private school (licensed or exempt), a regionally or nationally accredited private online school, an “eligible institution” defined as a NV college or university, a state or regionally certified tutor or tutoring agency, or a parent may all apply to become a Participating Entity.[2]  It is the “Participating Entity” (or a combination of PE’s) that will provide an education to a NV Opt-in Child.  The Nevada State Treasurer is responsible for annually approving all ESA Opt-in students as well as Participating Entities and curriculum purchased through the ESA program.[xv]

The approved PE provides the education to the child, meets applicable state requirements (including annual testing of the child with any norm-referenced national standardized test in mathematics and English language arts), and is paid from the ESA by the parent for their services.  A parent who has been approved as a PE may purchase approved curriculum and materials (the current State Treasurer is saying, as long as the curriculum is “educational” it will be approved), the annual standardized test for the child, and/or pay fees associated with services provided by other approved Participating Entities (including transportation costs) using the funds in an ESA.  Parents may not pay themselves for teaching the child, or anyone else directly teaching the child, who is not an approved Participating Entity, nor pay for additional “non-educational” expenses such as private athletics participation.[xvi]

[2] On December 1, 2016, during a National Summit on School Choice through ESAs, Mr. Grant Hewitt, Chief of Staff for the Nevada State Treasurer noted a problem with the definition for “Participating Entities” in the new law.  Currently, there are no “state or regional certification systems” for tutors or tutoring agencies.  Thus, only a NV certified teacher may be approved by the State Treasurer.  This creates greater restrictions than intended by the bill’s author for the ESA program. Mr. Hewitt’s testimony begins at the 35:27 minute marker on this video;


  1. Aside from all the “hoops” to maneuver through, an ESA sounds great, right? Then why should self-funded homeschool parents be concerned with government funded school choice?

Whenever state funding is involved in the education of a child there must be accountability to the tax-payer for the use of that money.  New state imposed “accountability measures” on both the public school system and public charter schools, over the last several years, is what (at least in part) has spurred the government funded school choice movement due to the failure of public schools to meet these accountability standards.  Self-funded homeschooling in Nevada assures the parent who takes full responsibility for the education of the child (including the financial burden) of their fundamental parental rights free from government control.

When NHN first became aware of the push to utilize public funding for the education of children in a non-public school in Nevada we issued a position statement opposing the use of such funds for homeschooling in Nevada which in part reads,

  • Whereas, NHN is concerned that alternative education funding programs intending to benefit a student with a government controlled “choice in education” will jeopardize homeschool autonomy from government oversight; now, therefore,
  • NHN is opposed to adoption of any alternative education program in this state that utilizes taxpayer funding, either directly or indirectly, on behalf of a child who is being homeschooled pursuant to NRS 392.070, including government controlled voucher programs and Education Savings Accounts. [xvii]

Our chief concern was and remains with the “controls”, including future controls, the government will put on the private school, education provider, and/or parent who accept ESA funding under the guise of “accountability” for the use of tax-payer money, essentially creating a system that ultimately requires children to be educated to the satisfaction of the government, not the parent.  Two points need to be made:

a)  Could private schools, education providers, and parents who accept government funding through an ESA, now in actuality, be considered a “public school” under federal or state law? There a differing opinions on this.  However, the Nevada Supreme Court said in the recent decision on Swartz v. Lopez, “Sb 302 does not alter the existence or structure of the public school system.  Nor does SB 302 transform private schools or its other participating entities into public schools.”[xviii]

b)  But the court also acknowledged the Legislature’s responsibility in establishing requirements for the operation of the ESA program, “We recognize the ESA program imposes conditions on the parents’ use of the funds in their account and also provides State oversight of the education savings accounts to ensure those conditions are met.”[xix] It is the “conditions” of State oversight, which may be changed by the State Legislature, that pose the greatest concern and establish the fact that the government, not just the parent, serves to monitor the child’s education within the ESA.

If the NV-ESA program is ever funded by the NV State Legislature, Participating Entities receiving ESA funds will be held accountable to the tax-payer for the education of the child. Under existing NV statute “Exempt” Private Schools and Homeschools are not “accountable” to the state beyond modest “notification” requirements precisely because they receive no tax-payer funding from the state.[xx] While “accountability” in the 2015 NV-ESA law is currently quite low (assuming you don’t mind your child being enrolled in a public school for 100 days, all the paperwork, submitting your child an annual nationally standardized test in all grades, and submitting results to the state for inclusion in the State Longitudinal Data System), these accountability measures will remain as is only depending on who controls the Legislature and the Governor’s office at any given time.  This is the “slippery slope” for self-funded homeschoolers and raises more questions: 

c)  While NV homeschoolers currently enjoy the hard-won freedom to direct the education of their children free from government control with the passage of the Homeschool Freedom Bill in 2007[xxi], will parents providing a “home based” education utilizing an ESA be as dedicated to the academic success of their children as traditional, self-funded homeschoolers have proven to be over the past 35+ years?

Dr. Brian Ray, National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) provides the following information on students being educated via a self-funded, private homeschool:

Academic Performance

  • The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50thpercentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) A 2015 study found Black homeschool students to be scoring 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students (Ray, 2015).
  • Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.
  • Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.
  • Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.
  • Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.
  • Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges. [xxii]

d)  If private schools, education providers, and parents receiving tax-payer funds are increasingly “regulated” by the state either due to fraud or abuse of the program, or an ESA Opt-in child simply doesn’t perform well on an annual test; what will stop the state from trying to regulate self-funded homeschoolers and private schools not accepting government funded vouchers or ESAs as well?

Matthew Gerwitz, a homeschool parent in Florida addressed the concerns of freedom loving homeschool parents across the nation in 2015, “Even if school vouchers (or now ESAs) were offered with the best intentions, they could never remain that way because government, by default, seeks to control,” he said. “School vouchers are a bad idea that should be avoided at every level — especially among homeschoolers.” “There is no need to eat the ‘king’s meat,’” Gerwitz continued. “Homeschoolers do not need the good graces of government to do what’s right by their kids; non-homeschoolers need to learn to stop depending on the government as surrogate parents. Vouchers are completely unnecessary if parents do their jobs.” [xxiii]

History shows us that as control of state legislatures change from election to election so do the laws and regulations citizens and businesses must operate under dependent on “who” is in control of state government. As Kathy Thomsen said in 2010, Drafters of school choice legislation attempt to convince patrons that laws can be crafted with appropriate language to assure complete autonomy that protect private schools. Abundant evidence proves such assurances cannot be trusted.”[xxiv] Education Liberty is at risk each time state legislatures are in session.

No legislation can be written that can’t or won’t be reversed or added to in successive legislative sessions. Now that the NV Legislature shifted from Republican back to Democratic control in the 2016 election, this has raised considerable doubt for the future of the NV-ESA program due to the funding problems created by the NV Supreme Court decision in Schwarz v Lopez plus the fact that Democrats unanimously opposed the 2015 ESA bill .[xxv]  Further, as the public-at-large questions how ESA dollars are spent, additional “controls” are more likely than not to be put in place restricting the freedom of private schools, providers  and/or parents accepting the funding.


  1. What might be other “negative” consequences to public funding of private education?

If Nevada’s Republican Governor and the Democrat-controlled 2017 NV Legislature do decide to find funding elsewhere in the state budget for the ESA, the program will be adapted with new tighter controls according to Nevada Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams.[xxvi]  This will raise even more questions.

a)  Will tax-payers then have a new “subsidy” or entitlement program to worry about?

b)  Will taxes be continually raised to fund public/charter schools AND now government funded school choice as well?

c)  Will the general public be supportive of tax dollars being spent on private schools, education providers, or in their neighbor’s home or will they consider ESAs and vouchers to be redistribution of wealth?

d)  Are vouchers and ESAs and their “accountability strings” just another form of public education due to the requirement of an annual nationally norm-referenced assessment for the child?

e)  Would tax-credit scholarship organizations or tax-credits for parents who choose to educate their children outside of the public school system be less government dependent and less intrusive?

These questions remain to be answered as the saga of “government funded school choice” unfolds in the years ahead.  But studies are now indicating, despite all the claims of “excellence”; former public school students currently attending private schools in states with voucher programs ARE NOT testing any better than their public school age-mates.[xxvii]  This should be of great concern; the autonomy from public education that private and home schools currently have in most states is at great risk.  Homeschoolers should fully understand that accepting funding from the government will bring limits to the moral decisions parents make about education provided to their child.

And now the federal government is looking to fund “school choice?”  As Jane Robbins of American Principals Project points out, “While efforts to shatter the government monopoly on education are laudable, extreme caution must be exercised to ensure – if this is even possible – that when government money follows the child, government regulations don’t follow as well.”[xxviii] A “Trojan Horse” may indeed be in our presence.


  1. Do “school choice” advocates really care about YOUR children? Or is it all about “breaking the monopoly” of the Constitution-required provision of a public school system?

In NHN’s discussions with Ed Choice during the 2015 NV Legislative session it became abundantly clear they do not understand the “liberty issue” that self-funded homeschool parents have advanced nationwide for the last thirty-five years.  Ed Choice, Excel in Ed[xxix], The Heritage Foundation[xxx], (check the donor lists for these groups) and many other “think tanks” are apparently willing to see homeschools and private schools become collateral damage in their quest to acquire the holy grail of school choice.  Ed Choice has expressed that “some accountability to the government” is “reasonable” if schools, education service providers and/or parents accept tax-payer funding, all in the name of “breaking the public school monopoly.”

Truth be told, advocates of government funded school choice seem to have no problem with ALL parents being held accountable to the government for the education of the parent’s child, just ask them.  Further, government funded assistance programs undermine the liberty of private schools and homeschools to make the educational decisions for the children they teach.  School choice advocates say, “It’s only a test, and it’s reasonable to require a test to ensure the child is being educated.”  Our response is no, it is not if the test doesn’t reflect the material the child has been taught. A “national” test promotes the existing public education model, making all citizens conform to this model is not “choice”, nor is it FREEDOM.  If homeschool parents or private schools want to use “nationally norm-referenced tests” to see where their child stands in relationship to public school students that’s fine, but we don’t support the concept of state mandated testing for all children to “prove” the “correct” education is being provided, that is where this is all leading whether parents or schools accept public funding or not.

But Nevada homeschool parents can find a silver lining in the court battle over the ESA program with this nugget of information from the Schwarz v. Lopez decision,

“And although the debates surrounding the enactment of Article 11 reveal that the delegates discussed the establishment of a system of public education and its funding, they also noted the importance of parental freedom over the education of their children, rejected the notion of making public school attendance compulsory, and acknowledged the need to vest the Legislature with discretion over education into the future. See Debates &Proceedings of the Nevada State Constitutional Convention of 1864, at 565-77 (Andrew J. Marsh off. rep., 1866); see also Thomas W. Stewart & Brittany Walker, Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts: A Constitutional Analysis (2016) (Nevada Supreme Court Summaries),, at 12-15 (discussing the history of Nevada Constitution Article 11, Section 2).”[xxxi]

The fact that delegates to the Nevada State Constitutional Convention of 1864 recognized and declared “parental freedom over the education of their children” and “rejected the notion of making public school attendance compulsory” should give Nevada HOMESCHOOL parents security in fighting any attempts to regulate or control homeschooling beyond that which is currently provided in law in future Nevada Legislative Sessions.

Although School Choice advocates like to say, “government funded school choice empowers parents”, they seem to have little understanding or regard for the fundamental rights of parents to direct the health, education, and welfare of the child FREE from government control.  “School Choice” is about government control of the education provided to a child.  It is not about education provided through private schools or homeschooling free from those controls.  NHN has developed an excellent chart, Education Choice Options in Nevada, showing who controls the education of the child dependent on what “choice” of education modality the parent makes. [xxxii]


  1. Several state legislatures are now considering ESA bills, is yours?

Homeschool parents in states considering education reform bills need to fully understand that state-funded ESA grants have accountability strings attached.  Parents who choose to NOT accept state funding must be vigilant in protecting their state homeschool and/or private school law!  The success of homeschooling is without question but now imitators seek to capitalize on the hard work of parents who have dedicated their lives to their children via self-funded, private homeschooling.  We must continue to educate parents in the biblical and moral “choice” to educate their children either through homeschooling or private schools without accepting funding from the state or federal government… or we risk losing that right entirely.

  • IAHE Action, facing the threat of an ESA program in Indiana, has many excellent blog posts expressing their concerns with ESAs.[xxxiii]
  • Idaho homeschoolers (CHOIS & ICHE) are gearing up for a possible fight in their state in and have an excellent article on this topic as well, Coming Soon: FREE MONEY.[xxxiv]
  • Oklahoma homeschool leader, Cindy Nicolai (Constitutional Home Educators Alliance) presented an excellent “Pinocchio” analogy at the 2016 HSLDA Leadership Conference on why homeschoolers should avoid government funded school choice. [xxxv]
  • To date, Homeschool parents in Texas, Missouri, Michigan, Connecticut, and other states are also grappling with potential government funded school choice bills.


  1. The battle for homeschool freedom continues…

In the 2001 article, Charter Schools: The Battle for Homeschool Freedom, homeschool champion Christopher J. Klicka said, Freedom is the answer. Freedom, I believe, is more important than “freebies.”[xxxvi]  How succinct!  And lest we think that today, after 3 decades of success, no one could possibly object to parent funded and controlled education Dr. Brian Ray reminds us otherwise in his recently published article, Despising Homeschooling: Contorting Rights on the mindset of the “education elites.”[xxxvii]  We must continue the battle for Education Liberty for the sake of future generations.

To that end, NHN and NV homeschoolers will remain adamant in defending the homeschool law and protecting themselves from being lumped in with “Public School at Home” students (virtual charter schools) and now “ESA Opt-in” children.  As stated earlier, NV homeschoolers are not accountable to the public school system or state government because we receive no money from the state.  Further, NV homeschool parents take “full responsibility”, including the financial burden, for the education of their child.  NV homeschoolers will not abdicate the right and responsibility to educate our own children, as we see fit, to the government.

We encourage homeschool leaders and parents across the country to do the same; understand that your children do not belong to the state, but are in fact, your prodigy, and as such your responsibility.  We must stand up to the powerful financial influences that intend for government to retake control of ALL education provided to children in the United States.  School choice vouchers and ESAs are just the first steps towards this ultimate but often unstated goal of education reformers.

  1. Concluding Thoughts
  • Perhaps voucher/ESA grant programs will be beneficial in spite of the government controls placed on them and will provide some parents more options in the education of their children for those willing to accept the yoke.
  • While NHN supports the concept of ESA’s for parents who voluntarily choose to use them, self-funded HOMESCHOOLING without government funding/controls – “Parent Responsibility-based Education”, must remain intact.
  • However, the line of demarcation between “private” and “public” education is fast disappearing and it is not inconceivable that government will once again seep into our “private” lives because of those looking for financial assistance from the government to educate their own children.
  • The waters are becoming muddied as evidence by those parents who are demanding “their fair share” of tax-payer money, desiring to use government funding to educate their children at home and yet insist they are the same as self-funded homeschoolers and not “just” parents providing a government approved home based education.
  • NHN Officers continue to be watchful and strive to educate parents, leaders, and public officials; self-funded, private homeschooling is an Education Liberty issue in our state.

On a personal note, I began homeschooling my children in 1990 at which time I joined other parents fighting for homeschool freedom in Nevada, one of most restrictive states to homeschool in at that time.  As a result, I know all too well how easy it is for elected, appointed, and/or employed government bureaucrats to say that ALL education of children in the state must be regulated by government.  We must not go back to Egypt!

Please, please take the time to educate yourselves on the differences between homeschooling and government-funded education programs.  Continued homeschool FREEDOM/LIBERTY is dependent on staying informed and engaged.


[i] Ed Choice, Robert Enlow President. From their website;

[ii] Nevada State Legislature, 2015, Final Votes on SB 302;

[iii] Ed Choice, from their website page on the Nevada program;

[iv] Nevada Supreme Court, ”The parent decides where to spend that money for the child’s education and may choose from a variety of participating entities, including religious and non-religious schools.”, page 24, Swartz v. Lopez, Case No. 69611, 09.29.2016,

[v] Nevada Homeschool Network, Nevada Homeschool Laws;

[vi] Nevada Revised Statute, 385.007 (3),

[vii] Hammond, Senator Scott, Nevada Senate Education Committee Hearing on SB 302, 04.14.2015;

[viii] 2015 NV Legislative session, Senate Bill 302 As Introduced 04.14.2015;

[ix] Nevada State Legislature, 2015, SB 302,  Amendment No. 639;

[x] Nevada Revised Statutes, NRS 392.040;

[xi] Nevada State Legislature, 2015, SB 302, As Enrolled;

[xii] Editorial, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12.17.2016;

[xiii] Klicka, Christopher J., Decisions of the United States Supreme Court Upholding Parental Rights as “Fundamental”, HSLDA, 10.27.03;

[xiv] Nevada Revised Statutes – NRS 353B.850,

[xv] Schwatz, Dan, Nevada State Treasurer, ESA website;

[xvi] Nevada Revised Statutes – NRS 353B.870;

[xvii] Nevada Homeschool Network, position statement, 01.18.2015;

[xviii] Nevada Supreme Court, page 18, Schwartz v. Lopez, Case No. 69611, 09.29.16,

[xix] Nevada Supreme Court, page 25, Schwartz v. Lopez, Case No. 69611, 09.29.2016,

[xx] Nevada Revised Statutes, NRS 394.211; and NRS 388D.020;

[xxi] Nevada State Legislature, 2007, SB 404;

[xxii] Ray, Brian D., PhD,  Research Facts on Homeschooling, NHERI, 03.23.2016;

[xxiii] Barry, Dr. Susan, Why Homeschoolers Don’t Want School Vouchers, Breitbart, 05.28.2015;

[xxiv] Thomsen, Kathy, The Trojan Horse of “Choice”, Idaho Observer, 2010;

[xxv] Whitaker, Ian, Is the ESA program dead in Nevada?, Las Vegas Sun, 11.21.2016;

[xxvi] Rindels, Michelle and Mello, Felicia, Associated Press/Las Vegas Sun,11.09.2016;

[xxvii] Dynarski, Mark, Report on Negative Effects of Vouchers, Brookings, 05.26.2016;

[xxviii] Robbins, Jane,  New GOP Platform: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Concerning, The Pulse, 07.19.2016;

[xxix] Excel in Ed, Jeb Bush,

[xxx] The Heritage Foundation, website on Education;

[xxxi] Nevada Supreme Court, bottom of page 19, Schwartz v. Lopez, Case No. 69611, 09.29.2016,

[xxxii] Schnorbus, Frank and Dragon, Barbara, Educational Choice Options in Nevada, Nevada Homeschool Network, June 2016;

[xxxiii]IAHE Action Blog, Indiana;

[xxxiv] Peters, Barry, Coming Soon: FREE MONEY!, Christian Homeschoolers of Idaho State Connection,  Fall 2016;

[xxxv] Nicolai, Cindy, The Truth About ESAs, HSLDA Leadership Conference, September 2016,

[xxxvi] Klicka, Christopher J., Charter Schools: The Battle for the Soul of Homeschooling, Homeschool World, 2001;

[xxxvii] Ray, Brian D., PhD, Despising Homeschooling: Contorting Rights, National Home Education Research Institute, 09.2016;



Federal funds for “school choice” – Thanks, but no thanks.

Okay Nevada Homeschool Parents… big FYI here.

  Meme courtesy of Bastiat Institute

Updates on FEDERAL “school choice” initiatives:

6/26/2017 – Homeschoolers Don’t Need Federal Help – American Spectator
6/19/2017 – Indiana Christian school at center of LGBT voucher debate – The Indy Star
6/5/2017 – Will Public Schools Survive if Blaine Amendments Don’t? – The Heartland Institute
5/23/2017 – HSLDA and DeVos talk Homeschool Freedom – report on their meeting.
5/18/2017 – Homeschool Advocates to Betsy DeVos: We Want to be Left Alone by the Federal Government
4/11/2017 – HR 610 Languishes in Committee, Will Estrada, Esq.; HSLDA Federal Relations
3/14/2017 – For the Love of Choice, Don’t Federalize It , Neal McCluskey; CATO Institute
3/2/2017 – Just Say No to “Fake” ESAs,  Jim Mason, Esq.;  HSLDA VP of Litigation and Development
2/14/2017 – 4 Ways HR 610 Will Threaten Your Rights, Will Estrada, Esq.; HSLDA Federal Relations

01/27/2017 -We knew the day would come when “government funded school choice” advocates would push their agenda to the national level to “give” us taxpayer money but in return the threat of state control of our homeschools would increase dramatically if the Feds get involved in giving “grants” to the states to fund private schools and homeschools.

Click here or read below HSLDA’s response to House Resolution 610 just introduced in the U.S. Congress.


January 27, 2017

Dear Friend,
It has been said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. As homeschooling families know too well, government money will eventually lead to government control.
That’s why HSLDA is opposing a bill introduced by our friends in Congress, Rep. Steve King (IA) and Rep. Andy Harris (MD). Though well-intentioned, H.R. 610 is ultimately ill-advised. It calls for sending all federal education dollars to the states in the forms of federal grants so that the states can then give the money as vouchers to public, private, and homeschool students.
(Note: While Rep. Trent Franks (AZ) is also listed as a cosponsor of H.R. 610, we talked with him and his staff last night and they agree with our concerns about homeschooling families being included in H.R. 610. As a result, there is no need to contact his office, and we are deeply grateful to him for his commitment to protecting homeschool freedom from “help” by the federal government. Here is the statement Franks gave to us: “I understand the concerns of the homeschool community. My support for the bill only extends to vouchers for public school and private school students. If this bill moves forward, I would request that any language that would impose vouchers upon homeschools is taken out.”)
If the bill only applied to public schools and traditional brick-and-mortar private schools, HSLDA would take no official position on it. There is no question that many millions of children are stuck in public schools that fail to meet their needs, and school choice would be an incredible benefit to them.
But HSLDA has repeatedly told our friends on Capitol Hill that our members and many other homeschooling families know that government dollars will eventually result in government regulation. Although we are grateful for our friends on Capitol Hill, and although we know that representatives King and Harris are well-intentioned, they need to hear loud and clear from the homeschool community. Even though the vouchers created by H.R. 610 would be voluntary, we believe that this would be a slippery slope toward more federal involvement and control in homeschooling.
If you do not want federal government “help,” if you just want to be left alone, this is the time to speak up.
Dangers of H.R. 610 (click here to read a PDF version of the bill with page numbers cited below).
1. Elimination of language protecting homeschool freedom in U.S. Code: Page 2, paragraph (a) repeals in its entirety the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was most recently reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act. While HSLDA applauds this repeal language, as we believe that the federal government has no constitutional authority to make education decisions which should be left to state and local authorities, this full repeal would also eliminateHSLDA’s language fully protecting homeschool freedom from all federal control.
2. Creation of a “federal right to homeschool:” Page 3, Sec. 104 requires states to make certain assurances in order to receive their portion of federal education dollars. One of the requirements (paragraph (2)(A) on page 3) is that states “make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect … to home-school their child.” While this sounds good, HSLDA has fought — successfully — for decades to make sure that there is no “federal right to homeschool” because what could be created by a favorable Congress could be regulated by a future, hostile Congress. It is far better (and far more constitutionally sound) for education decisions — and homeschool freedom — to be protected at the state level. We ask our friends at the federal level to simply leave homeschooling families alone. The Constitution protects the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children, as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in its seminal cases of Meyer, Pierce, and Yoder. Federal legislation to “protect” homeschooling is unnecessary.
3. States would need to track homeschooling students:Numerous provisions in H.R. 610 require states to count the number of eligible students in their state. Page 4 says “The State shall distribute funds . . . based on the number of eligible children in the public schools . . . and . . . the number of eligible children . . . whose parents elect to send their child to a private school or to home-school their child.” Page 5 requires “on an annual basis” that school districts count the number of eligible students who attend public schools, and “whose parents elect—to send their child to a private school or to home-school their child.” There is only one way that states and school districts can do this: by requiring homeschooling families to register with them, and be tracked by the school district. This will be especially problematic in states that do not require homeschooling families to file a notice of intent with the local school district. H.R. 610 will require homeschooling families in all 50 states to register with the local school district. This would be just the first cost of “free government money.”
4. The government would now get to decide how much parents should spend on homeschooling: Paragraph (B) on page 6 requires that the federal education vouchers to parents who choose a homeschool “shall not exceed the cost of home-schooling the child.” Who will now decide how much it costs to homeschool a child? The government. Page 8 further requires that the federal education vouchers “be distributed in a manner so as to ensure that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.” This is not defined, meaning that government officials and public schools will decide what qualifies as an appropriate educational expense. HSLDA has heard over the course of 33 years from numerous parents who have elected to teach their children at home through a government-funded virtual or correspondence school. In their experience, they found their curriculum options shrunk as each choice had to pass a government litmus test.
Call Congress Now

At this point, it is only necessary to contact these sponsors of this bill, Representatives King and Harris.

If one of these is your U.S. representative, please call or email him, and politely ask him to take homeschooling families out of the bill, including homeschooling families who are defined by their state’s education law as private school students.
Please remember that these congressmen are friends of homeschooling, and that this bill is well-intentioned, but ultimately dangerous. We encourage you to identify yourself as a homeschooling parent.  Your message can be as simple as:
“As a homeschooling parent, I oppose H.R. 610. I do not want to receive federal vouchers. Government money will ultimately lead to government control and regulation, which will stifle the success of homeschooling. I am grateful for your past support of homeschool freedom, and urge that you protect the future of homeschooling by rewriting H.R. 610 to ensure that homeschools, and homeschools defined by state laws as private schools, do not receive federal money.”
You can reach these congressmen by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. If one of these members of Congress represents you, you can find his direct phone numbers and email addresses here.
If you live outside of these districts, we encourage you to take to social media to politely but firmly remind these congressmen that homeschooling families do not want federal vouchers. You can also send each congressman a letter via the United States Postal Service.
HSLDA opposes H.R. 610 for reasons of prudence and principle.
Once homeschools become publicly funded by the federal government, more scrutiny and more control are likely to follow. After all, homeschooling families will be spending government money, and the Congress has a keen interest in guarding the public fisc.
On principle, homeschooling has succeeded as a movement in part by being different. Unlike typical constituencies asking for our piece of the public-money pie, we have simply asked the federal government to leave us alone. This has fostered one of the most dynamic social movements of our lifetime.
The spirit of self-government at the heart of private homeschooling has led to a vibrant social network of small groups and statewide groups who depend on each other—not on the government. The homeschool movement has been a better idea because we built it ourselves.
Routinely taking federal tax dollars will enervate the movement, lead to more squabbles between families and the state, and will result in more scrutiny, oversight, and control.
Thank you for standing with us for liberty as together, we fight to keep homeschooling free.
            Will Estrada is director of HSLDA's Federal Relations.                      Mike Smith is president of HSLDA.

2017 Compulsory School Attendance Age Change Bill – died in committee, again!

2018 – Bills in other states to lower Compulsory School Attendance Age:

  • Indiana – Bill FAILED to even receive a hearing! 
    • “Supporters of lowering the school age say it could decrease remediation rates for elementary school students. Taylor says he’s motivated to continue introducing legislation so all students can have more educational success.“These are the types of bills that you know, maybe not everybody agrees upon, but a lot of people understand that early childhood education means a lot,” he says.But critics say parents should decide when to send their child to school. And even if the Republican majority was more receptive to a lower school age, there are other problems to address in early childhood education.”

October 2017 Update:  Minutes for hearing on AB 186 – 3/22/17 posted on Legislative website.

It takes some time for the LCB to get minutes of hearings posted on their website, usually long after the Legislative session has ended.  Although the fate of the bill has usually been decided by the time minutes are posted it always a good idea to re-read them to equip ourselves for next time.  In this case AB 186, that proposed to lower the compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, mandate enrollment in Kindergarten, and require all Nevada public schools to offer Pre-Kindergarten, died in committee.

Some comments made by the sponsor of the bill, Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz (D), should be noted for future attempts to remove parental control over “when” their child is ready to begin school.

Bullet Points = Thoughts from NHN Officers

Assemblywoman Diaz in her opening remarks: “I bring before you Assembly Bill 186 for your consideration. I am a proud educator and an even prouder mother of a five-year-old who attends a full-day kindergarten program in Clark County. I am also a proud grandmother of a nine-month-old who is currently attending a school. What I am learning as a grandmother is that I missed things with my own five-year-old in terms of opportunities and windows that sometimes you just do not get back. Now that I have Aiden as my grandchild, and looking at Javi being in kindergarten, I wish that I would have started taking him to preschool at a much younger age because that socialization key is so important. Neurological science is showing us that the younger our children interact, engage, and learn, the stronger their brains are long-term and the future success of them starting to grow as individuals is so much more promising. Not that I am saying that I have been a horrible parent, but in hindsight, there were some missed opportunities for me to get him in school early and then he would be that much more perfect than I already think he is.”

  • Hhhmmm… her 9 month old grandson is currently “attending a school.” Seriously?  Or is it because both his parents are attorney’s who place him daycare while they are at work? (she reveals this later in her testimony, see page 23 of the minutes).  We’re all for parents being able to choose this “option” for their child but not a state mandate for ALL parents to do the same.

Assemblywoman Diaz after stating her many reasons for bringing the bill forward;  “…In summary, Assembly Bill 186 seeks to expand access to prekindergarten and kindergarten programs across the state by requiring the board of trustees of each school district to establish, equip, and maintain a pre-K education program and a kindergarten in each elementary school or school attendance area in their district. Assembly Bill 186 also seeks to lower the minimum required age of enrollment and attendance at school to five years of age from the previous seven years of age, as well as allowing the children who are four years of age on or before September 30 to be admitted to a pre-K program.”

  • Lowering the required school attendance age from 7 to 5 puts the state in control of “when” a child should attend school instead of allowing parents the right to decide when the child is READY.
  • We believe parents know their child best and should be making this decision.
  • Current law ALLOWS parents to enroll their child at age 5 if they determine they are ready or delay enrollment in a school until age 6 or 7 dependent on the child’s needs not a state mandate.
  • “So lowering the compulsory attendance age strikes us as totalitarianism; the state thinks they’re smarter than the parents in making educational decisions for the children.” J. Michael Smith, HSLDA President 

Assemblywoman Diaz: “…Again, the bill does not mandate full-day kindergarten, it simply makes it so the parent has to enroll their child in school by the age of five, or make alternative arrangements as provided by existing law.”

  • Exactly, it means parents will have to either enroll their child in a school OR submit a Notification of Intent to Homeschool at age 5 even if the child is not ready for “formal academics.”  Again, this is the state, not the parent, determining what is best for the child – something the state can’t possibly know.

Assemblywoman Diaz:  “I got some numbers from the Department of Education and I want you to know that based on the 2010 census data, Nevada has approximately 36,685 five-year-olds, and of those, 34,626 have been enrolled in kindergarten programs. We are just doing what the majority of parents are already choosing to do which is to enroll their children.

  1. So 94.4% of children age 5 in Nevada are already enrolled in Kindergarten programs.  And that isn’t already a HIGH percentage without mandating age 5?  We beg to differ.
  2. So because the “majority of parents” are already “choosing” to enroll the child at age 5 we should make a law forcing the other 5.6% to do the same?  That just defies logic!

Assemblyman Elliot T. Anderson (D): “I am looking at the bill and just want to clarify something. I think I know the answer, but thought it might be good to put on the record that homeschool parents would still have the option to homeschool their children under your legislation, right? That would not change or require them to come into public school, would it?”
Assemblywoman Diaz: “That is correct. I am not, in any form, modifying the process by which a parent chooses what the best setting is for their children. I know there are many parents who opt to do the private school route and that there are many parents who choose to do the homeschooling route and I am not changing that at all with A.B. 186. They get to choose. They do have to come in just like they would at age seven and notify what choice they are making, but I am not changing how they currently have to abide by the law.

  • That’s so generous!  She’s not changing “how” parents must comply with the law… just “when” because of course “the state” knows what all children need, and when, better than their parents.  Need we say more?

Assemblyman Edwards (R): I think early education can be extremely good for some, but I also think too much of a good thing can be bad. We have to be very careful about pushing children too early simply because of the maturity level. Studies will also show that girls usually progress maturity-wise two years ahead of boys. My concern is that we do not get to the point where we are pushing kids to get into prekindergarten when they simply are not mature enough. I was glad when you said that homeschooling is still an option and that there are other ways that parents are not expected to have their children attend at four years of age.”                                                                                   Assemblywoman Diaz: “That is correct. Parents are the ones who make that decision, whether they want to enroll their children in our public school education as soon as five years of age, or they want to opt to homeschool them, or they want to take them to a private school. This bill does not infringe upon those rights to make those decisions for their students. I would also educate the Committee that in speaking with the key academics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) studying early childhood education, they said that actually homeschooling parents might benefit from kindergarten being mandated because they would then have access to curriculums [sic] they could get ideas from. Not that I am saying they have to abide by them, but curriculums [sic] are then facilitated for them to reference if they wish to do so.”

  1. Again, this misses the point… the bill would still require all children to begin “school” (public, private, or home) at age 5… that removes the parent from the decision making process and puts it in the hands of the state, Assemblywoman Diaz is being disingenuous in her answer.
  2. The comment about the “key academics” at UNLV is also disingenuous and grasping at straws!  Parents already “have access” to curriculum no matter what age their children are!

And then the discussion really went south and is where NHN began to grow really concerned!  Most of the 2017 Assembly Education Committee members (Democrats and Republicans alike) KNEW NOTHING about our homeschool law and the FREEDOM parents have to direct the education of their own children.  

Assemblywoman Tolles (R): “…I also wanted to ask you what requirements would then suddenly be necessary for those families who want to keep their kindergarten-aged children at home instead of enrolling? We know that we ask families who homeschool to meet certain requirements. I am assuming that if we were to pass this legislation, we would be extending it to kindergarten families to say that if you want to keep your child at home, you have to go through the same requirements as a family would who decides to homeschool their student. Am I correct in that assumption?”
Assemblywoman Diaz: “It was my understanding that there are not really very many rigorous checks on the homeschooling community. Maybe they get screen”ed before they come to a public school to review where they are in terms of readiness or levels. I do not want to give misinformationso we will ask Ms. Oya.”                                                                                                                      Patti Oya: “No, I am sorry. I know there are homeschool parents here, but I do not have the
requirements around homeschooling. We can certainly provide that for you.”
Chairman Thompson (D): “Since nobody has the answer, we will just get it offline.”

  • It just can’t be stressed enough how VERY concerned we should about this.  Homeschoolers need to first educate themselves on our long and tortuous history and then their Legislators!  You can read it (or watch a short video) here: A Long Road to NV Homeschool Freedom; 1947-Present.

This was the end of Assemblywoman Diaz’ official presentation of AB 186.  Chairman Thompson then went to testimony in support of the bill.  In Carson City, there was no testimony in support; in Las Vegas there was.  Then there was much testimony against the bill in both Carson City and Las Vegas.  You can read the minutes for this part of the process.  Elissa Wahl, NHN Chairwoman and Barbara Dragon, NHN Officer Emerita testified against the bill requesting that the compulsory attendance age remain at 7 which is working well for Nevada families and allows parents the right to decide if their child is ready for school at age 5 or 6 and which course to choose if they are.

6/13/17 – 2017 Legislative Session Wrap-up

6/8/2017 – Nevada Legislative Session has ended.

AB 186 (compulsory school attendance age change/mandatory Kindergarten/pre-Kindergarten classes) was never heard in Assembly Ways & Means so the bill “died in committee” as they say.  We’re sure that some version of the bill will resurface in 2019 (there has been legislation to lower the compulsory school attendance age every session since 2007!)… but until then, sit back, relax and enjoy the FREEDOM to make the decision WHEN your child is ready for school!

Thank you to everyone who communicated with members of the NV Legislature and/or showed up to testify against AB 186… we couldn’t have done it without you!

Excellent 8/22/2015 blog post, Why School? Why 5 years of age? Why 5 days a week? Why 6 hours a day? Certainly there is a need and place for academic instruction in every child’s life… we of course desire to train them up to become self-sustaining, productive members of society who move out of our homes!  But why is it incumbent on government to determine when, where, and how OUR children are education?  It isn’t… it is a parent’s God-given right and responsibility.  NHN will continue the battle against Nevada’s propensity to make such decisions for ALL parents.

6/7/2017 – Letter from HSLDA

2017 Victory in Nevada! Bill to Reduce Parental Control of Education is Dead
 A message from Mike Smith (HSLDA) and Barbara Dragon (NHN)
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
AB 186 (by Diaz), which would have lowered the compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, died in the Ways and Means Committee last night as the legislative session ended.
This happened only because of your actions of writing letters, emails, making visits to the legislature, and your phone calls. Over 370 of you voiced your opposition to AB 186 on the Nevada Legislature opinion page. This is monumental.
Also, the tireless efforts of those at Nevada Homeschool Network was instrumental in this defeat. A special thanks goes to those who testified at the education hearing. Because of all these efforts, working together, AB 186 was defeated.
It seems obvious that another effort will be made in 2019 to lower the compulsory school attendance age. We will need to be ready again to mount an even greater effort. And to that end, if your legislator voiced opposition to the bill, please extend a thank-you to him or her.
Thanks again to all of you. We wish we could give you all a great big congratulatory hug!
Mike Smith is president of HSLDA.

6/2/2017 – UPDATE on AB 186

No news is good news?  We haven’t heard anything on AB 186 in weeks.  The bill is stalled in Assembly Ways & Means, which is good news at this point considering the HUGE budget battle now taking place over funding of the Governor’s ESA bill, SB 506.  So, we’ll say a prayer and ask God to continue to protect the fundamental right of parents to decided when their child is ready for school up to age 7 as in existing law.

We did find a 2009 article by Dr. Brian Ray, NHERI, that delves into the push by government bureaucrats to lower compulsory attendance ages.  Keeping this article here for what is sure to be a continuing battle in future Nevada Legislative sessions: Is There Any Solid Evidence For Expanding Compulsory School Age.

4/27/2017 –  Contact your Assemblyman/woman regarding AB 186.  Bill referred to Assembly Ways & Means, not yet scheduled for a hearing.

Click here for Call to Action MESSAGE from HSLDA/NHN

Please help NHN and HSLDA stop AB 186 that lowers the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 6 (amended from age 5 in original bill).  It also mandates Kindergarten for a 6 year old child enrolling in a public school if they were not enrolled in a public/charter school at age 5 which is punitive to the child!  And lastly, AB 186 will set up a new program, funded from the State’s General Fund (over and above what is already going to public K-12 education), to fund prekindergarten in public and private schools and child care facilities.

The amended version of the bill limits the parental right to decide when their child is ready for enrollment in a school (public or private) or to begin homeschooling as compared to existing law.  No reasonable justification has been given as to why the State of Nevada should compel enrollment in a school at a younger age than 7.  The current breakdown of enrollment ages in all 50 states is; age 5 = 9 states, age 6 = 25 states, age 7 = 14 states, age 8 = 2 states.

In addition, the NV Department of Education estimates that “…of the estimated 37,000 5-year-olds in the state, about 2,000 aren’t in school.”* that’s a whopping 95% who are already enrolled in a public school… so what’s the point? Clearly children in Nevada are already attending school and lowering the compulsory attendance age serves no purpose.  So lowering the compulsory attendance age strikes us as totalitarianism; the state thinks they’re smarter than the parents in making educational decisions for the children.

We are asking that you contact your Assemblyman/woman immediately and ask them to vote NO on AB 186 if/when the Assembly Ways and Means passes the bill out of committee.  Contact info for Legislators is contained in the HSLDA memo above as well as the link to the “Share Your Opinion” page for all bills being heard this Legislative session.  All Assembly Legislators need to be made aware of this attempt to limit parental rights.



4/26/2017 – UPDATE on AB 186, 1st Reprint

Assemblywoman Diaz’ Amendment No. 468 to AB 186 now posted on NV Legislative website.

POSITION:  Opposed

For Nevada Homeschool Network, our main issue of concern is allowing ALL parents the freedom to decided “when” (up to the age of 7 as in current law) and “where” their child should attend school (public, private, or home).  As such, we review bills based on their impact on the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the education of their children as FREE from government control as possible.  In this case, AB 186-1st Reprint limits existing rights by lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 6, and may actually penalize children who are not enrolled in a public/charter school by their parent at age 5.  This will make NRS 392.040 MORE restrictive, not less and should therefore be opposed.

DETAILS: Although Assemblywoman Diaz amended the original version, we still have major concerns with the bill.

  1. While the amendment changes the compulsory attendance age in AB 186 from 5 to 6, the bill now “mandates” kindergarten in public school and is punitive against a child whose parents choose to enroll their 5 year old child in a private kindergarten, provide a kindergarten experience at home, or simply provide the child with an enriching home life establishing the 6 year old child’s “readiness” for first grade.
  2. Section 3, subsection 7 defines a “kindergarten” as one offered in a public or charter school, only.
  3. Section 3, subsection 3 stipulates that a 6 year old child who has not attended a “kindergarten” (as defined in Section 3, subsection 7 of the bill) MUST be placed in kindergarten if enrolling at age 6 in a public school.
  4. Section 2, subsection 1(j) seems to allow a charter school to enroll a 6 year old in first grade without prior enrollment in a public/charter kindergarten.

From our reading of the First Reprint, if a parent chooses to wait to enroll their child at age 6 in a public school and the child did not attend a public or charter kindergarten at age 5, that 6 year old child MUST be enrolled in the public school kindergarten and has no opportunity to enter first grade if that is a more appropriate placement based on the child’s abilities.  Therefore, this amended bill is clearly “more restrictive” than existing law and we question whether that wording is intentional or a mistake that can be corrected.

BACKGROUND:  School districts in this state currently offer (and are required by existing law) an “assessment” or “developmental screening” for a child enrolling in a public/charter school for the first time to determine grade placement.

Existing law: NRS 392.040

6.  A child who is 7 years of age on or before September 30 of a school year must:

(a) If the child has completed kindergarten and the first grade, be admitted to the second grade.

(b) If the child has completed kindergarten, be admitted to the first grade.

(c) If the parents, custodial parent, guardian or other person in the State of Nevada having control or charge of the child waived the child’s attendance from kindergarten pursuant to subsection 4, undergo an assessment by the district pursuant to subsection 7 to determine whether the child is prepared developmentally to be admitted to the first grade. If the district determines that the child is prepared developmentally, the child must be admitted to the first grade. If the district determines that the child is not so prepared, he or she must be admitted to kindergarten.

__The enrollment of any child pursuant to this subsection must be counted for apportionment purposes.

7.  Each school district shall prepare and administer before the beginning of each school year a developmental screening test to a child:

(a) Who is 7 years of age on or before September 30 of the next school year; and

(b) Whose parents waived the child’s attendance from kindergarten pursuant to subsection 4,

__ to determine whether the child is prepared developmentally to be admitted to the first grade. The results of the test must be made available to the parents, custodial parent, guardian or other person within the State of Nevada having control or charge of the child.

FURTHER AMENDMENT NEEDED:  AB 186, 1st Reprint does NOT included this “developmental screening” language provided in existing statute for children whose parents choose to delay school enrollment for their child and should, at the very least, be amended again to allow for a 6 year old child being enrolled in public school for the first time to receive an assessment to determine grade placement which may be kindergarten, first grade, or even second grade!  It should be up to the school and the parent, working together, to determine the most suitable grade placement of a child based on his/her academic skill level rather than their birth date.  It is “reasonable” to assess a child’s readiness for a particular grade placement rather than limiting the child’s placement in a public school simply because he/she did not attend a public/charter kindergarten in this state at age 5.

Further, under current law and the AB 186-First Reprint, children moving to Nevada from another state are allowed placement in the grade level they were working at in that state according to that state’s laws.  This could mean that if another state recognizes kindergarten and/or first grade enrollment in private schools and homeschools, those children would not be automatically placed in a Nevada kindergarten.  If this were the case, a Nevada resident child may be discriminated against under the wording in AB 186-1st Reprint if forced into kindergarten for having not been enrolled in a Nevada public/charter kindergarten at age 5.

CONCLUSION:  NHN will continue to advocate for the complete removal of the “compulsory attendance age change” language from AB 186 because doing so will maintain the liberty of parents to make decisions for the appropriate age of their child’s school enrollment (up to age 7) based on their “readiness” for formal academic training and will not impact Assemblywoman Diaz’ stated goal of offering state funded prekindergarten programs to 4 year old children in this state.

ADDITIONAL IMPACT of AB 186-1st Reprint:  Sections 5.3 and 5.8 create a NEW prekindergarten funding program for public and private schools and child care facilities.  AB 186 was also amended to remove the requirement that public schools in Nevada provide a prekindergarten class and instead requires the NV Department of Education to establish the “Prekindergarten Improvement and Expansion Program.”

From the Legislative Counsel’s Digest on AB 186, 1st Reprint –

Section 5.3 – “The Department shall (1) accept and approve applications from schools (public or private) and child care facilities (public or private) that wish to establish new prekindergarten education programs or expand existing prekindergarten education programs; and (2) identify the needs that must be met for those schools to establish or expand prekindergarten education programs.” (State control of all prekindergartens that receive state funding.)

In addition, the amended bill “prescribes the required uses of money appropriated for the program, including addressing the identified needs of schools and facilities participating in the program 7 and awarding grants of money to such schools and facilities.”

Section 5.8 – Appropriates money from the State General Fund:  (not currently included in Governor Sandoval’s proposed budget) for this program for the next two years (2017-2019) according to the bill; $9,313,000.00 (1st year: $1,542,000.oo, 2nd year:  $7,771,000.oo).

NHN is not taking a position on this portion of the bill.  However, we do stand by our original position that state funding of  prekindergarten or “preschool” is burdensome to the taxpayer because, “There are no proven studies showing preschool promotes long-term educational success. To the contrary, research indicates that early education does not improve a child’s potential for being a better student in the future, because early gains disappear in a few years.”


4/14/2017 – Update on AB 186

Assembly Education Committee votes “Do Pass” of an amended AB 186.  Two Republican Assemblywoman, Melissa Woodbury and Jill Tolles voted “for” the amended bill but reserved the right to change their vote to “no” on the assembly floor because they still have concerns with the Age 6 compulsory attendance age change (this up from age 5 in the original bill, the current age is 7).  NHN believes that there is no compelling evidence to suggest the current age of 7 needs to be change or that anyone will be benefited by the change.  Indeed, parents will be more burdened by lowering the compulsory attendance age if their children are simply not ready for school.

If you live District 24 – Clark County (Woodbury) or District 25 – Washoe County (Tolles) please contact them and ask them to vote NO on AB 186 since you are their constituents.  Contact info for Assemblywoman Woodbury;

Assemblywoman Tolles:

Results of the Education Committee Vote on AB 186 –A message from Mike Smith
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Assembly Bill 186 was voted out of the Assembly Education Committee this afternoon. The author of the bill amended it to change the compulsory education age from 5 to 6.

However, we will not change our position on the bill—at age 6 children are still too young to be forced to start formal education. There’s no justification for changing the current compulsory age of 7.

It appears that the bill will now go to the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means—the money committee. When and if this happens, we will  let you know so we can mount further opposition to AB 186.

For those of you who contacted the Education Committee, voicing your concerns, we are very grateful. We will be asking you to contact your legislators again. Do not despair; perseverance in the face of adversity is the key to maintaining our freedom.


Mike Smith,

HSLDA President

4/13/2017 – Update!  Action Needed

The Assembly Education Committee has scheduled AB 186 for a Work Session and VOTE tomorrow, April 14th. We don’t know the time of the hearing, it will be held “at the call of the Chairman.”

Please EMAIL all Committee Members tonight or tomorrow morning with “Vote NO on AB186” in the subject line. This will make it easy to copy and paste into an email:,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Bill: AB 186 (by Diaz)—lowers compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, makes kindergarten mandatory at age 5 and requires all school districts to provide prekindergarten for 4 year-olds in every public elementary school.

This bill 

  • Denies parents the right to decide if their children are ready for school at age 5 or 6 and puts that decision in the hands of the state.  
  • Mandates that ALL children attend Kindergarten 
  • Mandates that all public school provide PreKindergarten (4 year-olds) – where does that money come from?  Raising taxes again?

Position: Strongly oppose

Assembly Education Committee Members office phone numbers:

DEMOCRATS: Tyrone Thompson – Chair Office Phone: 775-684-8569, Amber Joiner – Vice Chair Office Phone: 775-684-8559, Elliot T. Anderson Office Phone: 775-684-8835, Olivia Diaz Office Phone: 775-684-8553,  Edgar Flores Office Phone: 775-684-8583, Ozzie Fumo Office Phone: 775-684-8839, William McCurdy II Office Phone: 775-684-8545, Brittney Miller Office Phone: 775-684-8833, Heidi Swank Office Phone: 775-684-8595

REPUBLICANS: Chris Edwards Office Phone: 775-684-8857, Lisa Krasner Office Phone: 775-684-8848,
Keith Pickard Office Phone: 775-684-8823, Jill Tolles Office Phone: 775-684-8837, Melissa Woodbury Office Phone: 775-684-8503

Assembly Fax number for all: 1-775-684-8533


4/4/2017 – In the Media

Commentary on AB 186 (Diaz) and AB 348 (Joiner) from Victor Joecks, Las Vegas Review Journal

“Diaz has proposed Assembly Bill 186, which would reduce the compulsory school age from 7 to 5. She testified that Nevada has about 37,300 5-year-olds, but just 34,626 of them are enrolled in public kindergarten. You might think having 92 percent of 5-year-olds enrolled in public kindergarten shows that the status quo is working — starting at 5 fits most kids, and parents hold off when a child isn’t ready — but you’re obviously not thinking like a liberal.

Liberal politicians are running a factory that produces widgets — you commoners call these widgets “children.” No factory supervisor could accept an 8 percent error rate. Politicians’ track record of, ahem, “success” with Nevada’s public school system proves that we can blindly trust them.”


3/22/2017 – UPDATE

BEST video news report on the hearing on AB 186 from KOLO-News Now;
“But with such high voluntary kindergarten enrollment numbers, opponents of AB 186 say parents should be able to choose whether to let their children start school early.”Our kids have access to kindergarten all day by age 5,” Maggie England, a parent who opposes the bill, said to the committee. “There’s no need to mandate it at five. They all have access already. This is only restricting parental rights over their child, and I don’t think that’s the place of the government.”

Other parents also saw this bill as government overreach.

“I did not give birth so the state could have children,” one mother again AB186 told the committee.

Others argued that one size doesn’t fit all, that some children may not be developmentally ready to start school at five.

“Kids are all different,” Karen England, executive director of the Nevada Family Alliance, said. “Their social needs, their emotional needs, their educational needs, their medical needs. We’re all different. My three grandchildren could not be more different.”

Assemblywoman Diaz says the bill does not take away a parent’s right to choose private or homeschooling education as an alternative to public school. They would just be required to file the same notices and paperwork they would if they were making the decision for their 7-year-old. But it was unclear what parents would do if they want their child educated in a private school, but not until he or she was six or seven. Opponents also expressed concerns that parents would lie and use homeschooling as a loophole to avoid enrolling their child in school.

“You are forcing that parent to do one of two things,” Karen England said. “Falsify a record and become a homeschooler for their child at the age of 5, and provide lesson plans and all the documentation. Or if they’re not falsifying the record, force them to do what they genuinely believe is wrong for their child.”

And from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:  

Lowering the compulsory age drew the most criticism, including from the Nevada Homeschool Network.

“Our basic premise is that parents need to be the one who decides when their children enter school,” said Elissa Wahl, the organization’s chairwoman. “The biggest sticking point is that this is not voluntary.” 

Click here to read NHN’s Letter to the NV Assembly Education Committee – 03.21.17 OPPOSING AB 186 as written.

Click hear to read Home School Legal Defense Association’s positon on AB 186.

Video of the actual hearing:  AB 186 was the last bill to be heard and starts at the 1 hour, 26 minute marker.

THANK YOU to all the parents and concerned citizens who came out today in both Carson City and Las Vegas to convey opposition to AB 186 as written! And to those of you who called, emailed, faxed; LEGISLATORS HEARD you! Several made comments on all the people who had contacted them!!!

We are hopeful (though not necessarily optimistic) that members of the Assembly Education Committee heard our plea and will work to amend the bill and leave the compulsory attendance age at 7. The next step will be for the Chairman to move this bill to a “Work Session”… NHN will keep you posted.



Click here for joint Home School Legal Defense Association and NHN Call to Action – Make your opinion known!


3/19/2017 – Neveda AB 186 Opposition.NHN.HSLDA Hearing CTA.1

AB 186 – Reduces Parental Control over Education; Hearing Scheduled 3/22/17

Call to Action Request – NEW message from NHN Officers and Mike Smith (HSLDA)

Bill: AB 186 (by Diaz)—lowers compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, makes kindergarten mandatory at age 5 and requires all school districts to provide prekindergarten for 4 year-olds in every public elementary school.

Position: Strongly oppose

Status: As introduced

Hearing:  Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 3:15 p.m.  in Assembly Education Committee. Agenda:

Action Requested

Thank you to all who have already contacted your own Assembly members and voiced your concerns regarding AB 186, but NOW more is needed!  We need ALL OF YOU to respond to this new action request to STOP this attempt by the state to get ALL children in school at five years of age.

Please call, email or fax members of the Assembly Education Committee NOW (contact info below). Include your name, address, and a short message (see Opposition Points below).  Subject:  Vote NO on AB 186.

Plan to attend the hearing on Wednesday, March 22nd at 3:15 in either Carson City or Las Vegas.

Location: Room 3142 of the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson St., Carson City, NV.

Video-conferenced to Room 4406 of the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, 555 E. Washington Ave., Las Vegas, NV.


CONTACT INFORMATION for Education Committee Members:

Tyrone Thompson – Chair  Office Phone: 775-684-8569    Email:

Amber Joiner – Vice Chair  Office Phone: 775-684-8559     Email:

Elliot T. Anderson                Office Phone: 775-684-8835     Email:

Olivia Diaz                        Office Phone: 775-684-8553     Email:

Edgar Flores                      Office Phone: 775-684-8583     Email:

Ozzie Fumo                       Office Phone: 775-684-8839     Email:

William McCurdy II           Office Phone: 775-684-8545     Email:

Brittney Miller                   Office Phone: 775-684-8833     Email:

Heidi Swank                      Office Phone: 775-684-8595     Email:

Chris Edwards                   Office Phone: 775-684-8857     Email:

Lisa Krasner                      Office Phone: 775-684-8848     Email:

Keith Pickard                     Office Phone: 775-684-8823     Email:

Jill Tolles                          Office Phone: 775-684-8837     Email:

Melissa Woodbury              Office Phone: 775-684-8503     Email:

Assembly Fax number for all:  1-775-684-8533 or Toll Free: 1-866-543-9941

Assembly Mailing Address: c/o NV Assembly; 401 S. Carson Street, Carson City, NV 89701-4747

Current Assembly Members:

Find Your Legislator:

Summary of Concern

Under current law, parents can choose to have their child skip kindergarten and begin at the 1st grade at age 6 or even 7 if appropriate for the child as determined by the parent. If AB 186 were to pass, it would eliminate this current parental choice by mandating that every child attend school by age 5. This would go into effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Under AB 186, parents who would have chosen to delay their child’s entrance into formal education and skip kindergarten would be forced to start their children’s formal education two years earlier, before they feel it is best for their child.

The requirements of AB 186 would apply to pupils in public and private schools, as well as homeschools and rigidly compel school attendance based on age instead of readiness.

Advocates of extending government control over all children from birth will be able to use passage of AB 186 as a step toward establishing seamless, cradle-to-grave government-controlled education and development programs for all children.

Opposition Points

  1. Parents, not the state, should decide when their children are ready to attend public, private or home school, not the government.  The current compulsory attendance age of 7-18 more than satisfies the government’s goal of ensuring an educated populace while protecting a parent’s right to determine the child’s readiness for school attendance prior to age 7.  Many children are simply not ready to attend school at age 5 or even 6. However, for those parents who wish their child to attend school, the opportunity to do so already exists under current Nevada law.
  2. Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5 will create an undue financial burden on parents who intend to enroll their child in private school but wish to choose to wait until their child turns 7. These parents will now be forced by state law to enroll their child one or two years earlier than planned or submit paperwork to homeschool their child at age 5 even if they determine their child is not ready for school. Homeschooling parents would be required to start their children’s formal education at age 5 as well.
  3. Requiring school districts to provide prekindergarten in every elementary school usurps local control of education and will create an undue financial burden for Nevada. There are no proven studies showing prekindergarten or “preschool” programs promote long-term educational success. To the contrary, research indicates that early education does not improve a child’s potential for being a better student in the future, because early gains disappear in a few years. Further, funding for other educational services vital to current public school students will be depleted.

Forward this email onto your friends and relatives as this affects all families in NV not just homeschoolers.

If you have not already done so, go to the Nevada Legislative Opinion page and vote your opposition to this bill here.  In addition, it is vitally important that you leave a COMMENT. Your comments will be viewed by lawmakers.

Thank you for your action to preserve this vital right of parental choice in Nevada.

NHN Officers:  Elissa Wahl, Matt Alder, Kelley Radow, Ray Poole, Aaron Sutherland, & Kristi Casuas       NHN Officer Emerita (active):  Barbara Dragon                                                                                                       in cooperation with Mike Smith, President HSLDA


AB 186 has been scheduled for a hearing in the NV Assembly Education Committee on WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22 at 3:15 pm.  Please plan to attend the hearing in Las Vegas or Carson City to register your opposition to the bill as currently written.  Click HERE for date, time, location info.


3/10/2017 – UPDATE on our meeting with Assemblywoman Diaz re: AB 186

After meeting with the sponsor of AB 186 last week, there appears to be some confusion. Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz believes that 5 and 6 year-olds who are already ENROLLED in a public school but are not attending the school on a regular basis are being “neglected” by their parent and that an age change in the compulsory attendance law is required to “fix” the problem.

But we pointed out that under existing law parents who voluntarily enroll their 5/6 year-old child ARE already contributing to truancy of the child if they are not sending the child to the school he/she is “enrolled” in and can be dealt with the same as parents of 7-18 year-olds. If that is her only motivation for the compulsory attendance age change, no change in the law is required. We also stressed that MOST parents already think the law requires them to enroll their child in Kindergarten at age 5 or 6 anyway!

There was also some discussion that she is concerned that there are 5 and 6 year-olds who are not enrolled in a public school and may not be receiving any instruction from their parents and they then arrive “delayed” at public school. We stressed that even if that were true in some cases, the law should not be changed as it would negatively impact a parent’s right to make the determination based on the child’s “readiness” for school instead of the child’s age.  Schools (both public and private) already work with the parent and child in determining proper grade placement when the child is enrolled at any age.

Lowering the compulsory attendance age would then force all children into “education” based on their age, as determined by government, instead of their “readiness” for academics as determined by the parent.  We have asked that the bill the bill NOT be moved forward as it is currently written.



Oppose Bill that Reduces Parental Control over Education

 A message from Mike Smith and Barbara Dragon

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
From: Mike Smith, HSLDA, in partnership with Nevada Homeschool NetworkBill: AB 186 (by Diaz)—lowers compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, makes kindergarten mandatory at age 5, and requires all school districts to provide prekindergarten for 4-year-olds in every public elementary school.Position: Strongly opposeStatus: Your response to AB 186 has been tremendous! Some of you have contacted your Assembly member, and 150  of you (as of 3/1/17 @ 7:00 pm) have formally registered your opposition to the bill on the Nevada Legislative Opinion page. As a result, AB 186 is in the top 10 of all bills based on the number of responses.The bill is still active and will require our continued opposition. We will probably contact you next about the bill when it is set for a hearing, likely in the Assembly Education Committee. At that time we will ask you to contact committee members and, if possible, attend the hearings in both Carson City and Las Vegas.

Action Requested

Please forward this email to anyone interested in opposing this bill. We have provided “opposition points” below to help you formulate your message. Also, if you haven’t contacted your Assembly member, please call or write, explaining your dissatisfaction. Find your legislator here. And finally, if you haven’t registered your opposition on the Nevada Legislative Opinion page, please do so at your earliest convenience.

Summary of Concern

Under current law, parents can have their child skip kindergarten and begin at the 1st grade at age 6 or 7. If AB 186 were to pass, it would eliminate this current parental option by mandating that every child attend school by age 5. This would go into effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Under AB 186, parents who would have decided to delay their child’s entrance into formal education and skip kindergarten would be forced to start their children’s formal education two years earlier, before they feel it is appropriate.

The requirements of AB 186 would apply to pupils in public and private schools, as well as homeschools.

Advocates of extending government control over all children from birth will be able to use passage of AB 186 as a step toward establishing seamless, cradle-to-grave government-controlled education and development programs for all children.

Opposition Points

Parents, not the state, should decide when their children are ready to attend school. The current compulsory attendance age of 7-18 more than satisfies the government’s goal of ensuring an educated populace while protecting a parent’s right to determine the child’s readiness for school attendance prior to age 7. Many children are simply not ready to attend school at age 5 or even 6. However, for those parents who wish their child to attend school, the opportunity to do so already exists under current Nevada law. The requirements of AB 186 rigidly compels school attendance based on age instead of readiness.

Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5 will create an undue financial burden on parents who intend to enroll their child in private school but wish to choose to wait until their child turns 7. These parents will now be forced by state law to enroll their child one or two years earlier than planned or submit paperwork to homeschool their child at age 5, even if they determine their child is not ready for school. Homeschooling parents would be required to start their children’s formal education at age 5 as well.

Requiring school districts to provide prekindergarten in every elementary school usurps local control of education and will create an undue financial burden for Nevada. There are no proven studies showing kindergarten promotes long-term educational success. To the contrary, research indicates that early education does not improve a child’s potential for being a better student, because early gains disappear in a few years. Further, funding for other educational services vital to current public school students will be depleted.

Thank you for your action to preserve this vital right of parental choice in Nevada.

Mike Smith, HSLDA President
Barbara Dragon, NHN Officer



Click here for NEW joint message from NHN and HSLDA on AB 186!  Join the growing number of people making their voices heard on this bill to lower the Compulsory Attendance age from 7 to 5.

NEW study from Stanford University backs up what NHN has long said, parents should decide “when” their child is ready for school, not a state mandate.

We appreciate your support of the work of both organizations to protect homeschooling in Nevada and at the national level as well!  How you can help:

Parents, Join NHN first and receive a discount on your HSLDA Membership.

Grandparents and Friends, donations to Nevada Homeschool Network* and HSLDA – Homeschool Freedom Fund are welcome as well.

*Note: NHN is a 501c4 organization which benefits others through our lobbying efforts. Therefore, membership fees and donations are not tax deductible.  


2/15/2017 – Warning:  The NV Legislature is now in session.

AB 186  will lower the Compulsory School Attendance Age in Nevada from 7 to 5 years old! 

There has been a bill in the Nevada Legislature to lower the age every session since 2007!

The bill also mandates every School District maintain a Pre-K class in every school.We say:  “Let parents decide when their child is ready!”

February 15, 2017

Dear Concerned Citizens,

By way of introduction, Nevada Homeschool Network (NHN) advocates for Nevada families who have chosen to direct the education of their children.  In this capacity, we are writing today about AB 186. Among other things, AB 186 will lower the compulsory attendance age for entry into school from 7 to 5 years of age. This requirement will apply to all children, whether their parents plan to send them to public school or private school or homeschool.

We have several concerns with AB 186 as introduced:

  • We hold that Nevada parents should decide when their child is ready to attend school, not the government. The current age of 7 gives parents that opportunity.  Many children are simply not ready at age 5 or even 6.  However, for those parents who wish their child to attend school they may already do so under current Nevada law. “Choice in Education” should include “when” as well as “where”.
  • Requiring school districts to provide Pre-Kindergarten in every elementary school usurps local control of education and will create an undue financial burden for Nevada.  There are no proven studies showing Early Childhood Education (Pre-K) benefits the long-term educational success of the child.
  • Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5, with no exemptions for age 5 or 6, may create an undue financial burden on parents who intend to enroll their child in private school but wish to choose to wait until their child turns 7.  These parents will now be forced by state law to enroll their child a year or two earlier than planned or submit paperwork to homeschool their child even if they determine their child is not ready for school.

Article II, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution states, “…the legislature may pass such laws as will tend to secure a general attendance of the children in each school district upon said public schools.”  The key here is, “tend to secure” a general attendance which we believe is met under current law.

Therefore, NHN requests the help of all Nevadans to STOP this intrusive surge into what should be a parent’s right to determine when their child is ready to attend school.

What YOU can do now to help!


  1. Contact your Assemblyman/woman by mail, phone or email:

Assembly Contact info:

Who’s my Legislator?

What’s my district?

  1. Please explain in your own words that this bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Diaz is: a huge burden on the Nevada taxpayer, it is not in the Governor’s budget, it will required higher taxes that Nevadan’s can’t afford, it takes away local control of education by mandating school districts to provide Pre-Kindergarten in every school, and it undermines a parent’s right to decide when their child is ready for school.
  2. Share your opinion on AB 186 on the Legislative Opinion Page.
  3. Contact NHN and let us know that you agree with us by finding us on Facebook or emailing us . We also need people to meet with Legislators with us as well as attending hearings on this bill. For information on this and other bills affecting homeschool freedom link to our website.

A Long Road to NV Homeschool Freedom; 1947-Present

Never forget the HARD road traveled to NV homeschool  freedom!

Here it is, 2017 and I’m sitting in a meeting of the Nevada Assembly Education Committee listening to the introduction of AB 186, a bill to lower the compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, mandate Kindergarten for ALL Nevada children, and force all NV Public Schools to offer PreKindergarten.  As NV homeschool parents showed up and testified against the bill because of the threat to their right to decide “when” their child is ready for school it became increasingly clear that current Legislators on both sides of the aisle have NO IDEA what is currently in NV law regarding homeschooling and the justification behind the current freedom of NV Homeschooling.

I began to wonder, perhaps even homeschool parents today really don’t know the torturous history of our homeschool law and the over-burdensome regulations Nevada homeschool parents endured.  In response to a Legislator’s question of how homeschooling in Nevada got to where it is today I wrote this timeline to explain how burdensome homeschool regulations were back in the day and how parents across the state worked together over 25 years to give parents the FREEDOM they enjoy to direct the education of their children without government controls!

~Barbara Dragon, NHN Officer Emerita

So, here goes…

1947, amended in 1956 – First “homeschool law” in the nation.

This Nevada law basically said that parents could educate their children at home if they provided “satisfactory written evidence of equivalent instruction to the public schools as approved by the NV State Board of Education.”

1982 – Two mothers “applied” to homeschool in Winnemucca, NV.

One mother was approved because she was a Nevada certified teacher, the other mother was denied because she was not a certified teacher and the family lived within 50 miles of a local public school.  That mother and father filed a lawsuit and lost.  The reason?  The district court judge ruled in Wallace v. Humboldt  County School District that because the NV State Board of Education (NV-SBOE) had never written regulations for the law in existence at the time, nor did the family live outside the 50 mile radius of a public school, there was no basis on which to rule in their favor.  That judge also stated in his ruling that he objected to the concept of homeschooling and he “recommended” several requirements if it were to be allowed.

1983 – Parents seek change at the NV State Legislature allowing parents to homeschool their children without government approval.

However, the Department of Education testified before the Legislature that they were writing regulations based on the judge’s ruling for approval by the NV-SBOE.  The Legislature refused to move the bill forward to allow the SBOE time to “regulate” homeschooling via the Nevada Administrative Code (NAC).  The NV-SBOE not only approved regulations following the judge’s recommendations, they added many additional conditions which turned Nevada into one of the most “over-regulated” homeschool states in the nation.*

The NV-SBOE continued to ADD to the regulations over the next 5 years.  By 1990 regulations included, in part, annual education plans and “approval” of the homeschool by the local school board, birth certificates and photos of the child had to be submitted, first-time homeschoolers had to work under the oversight of a NV certified teacher, children had to be tested annually AT the local public school (not in their home where they were taught), days and minutes of teaching time equal to the public school were required, the list went on and on.  But at least parents were “allowed” to homeschool.

1983 Proposed H.S.regs. ; 1984 Homeschool NACs 7.31.841988 Homeschool Regulations

1988-1996 –  Homeschool parents throughout Nevada work together to oppose the more onerous regulations.

  • 1988 – Silver State Education Association (SSEA; President Mark Forrest) is formed by parents from Northern Nevada Home Schools, Inc – NNHS (1984) reaching out to homeschool families in Southern and Eastern Nevada to combat over-burdensome regulations approved by the NV-SBOE.  NNHS and SSEA also partnered with Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), (J. Michael Smith, Esq.) a national organization dedicated to the defense of homeschool freedom.  Over the next 10 years, SSEA was successful in slowly repealing over-burdensome regulations, almost one at a time.


  • 1991 – So many parents showed up to a NV-SBOE meeting opposing over-regulation prompting the Superintendent of Public Instruction to say, “You parents might be allowed to homeschool but we WILL control you!”  The board, at that same meeting, established the “Northern and Southern Nevada Home School Advisory Councils to the SBOE” and attempted to use the confines of these advisory committees to control parent’s attempts to modify regulations.  One example of this control was that only the Presidents of each council were allowed to speak at SBOE meetings regarding homeschool regulations, thereby limiting the rights of the people to address their grievances.  Another was that a SBOE member and a DOE Administrator were assigned to the committees, these government agents disrupted efforts to improve the regulations at every turn.  But parents kept up the fight and SLOWLY got the regulations reduced, one at at time.  1992 NAC 392.011 to 392.055


  • 1994 – a significant event occurred at the federal level that resulted in a greater public awareness of homeschooling.  HR 6 was introduced in the US Congress and would have essentially eliminated a parent’s right to educate their own child across the country.  NV homeschool parents joined over 20 thousand homeschool parents across the country in nearly shutting down the Capitol Switchboard in Washington, D.C., over multiple days, with telephone calls opposing HR 6.  After days of lobbying, the bill was amended to protect the right of parents to educate their own child.  It was quite a victory!


  • 1996 – NV homeschool parents, unified under SSEA (President Stephen Balkenbush, Esq.) and in partnership with HSLDA (J. Michael Smith, Esq.), worked through the Advisory Councils to meet the ultimate goal of eliminating the annual testing requirement as discrimination against homeschooled children and not authorized by NRS 392.070, the homeschool statute.  SSEA disbanded in 1998 as leaders moved on to other things.  1997 R109-97 NAC 392 Adopted-1997

1997-2002 –  Regulations are tweaked in 1999 and 2002 

However, the regulations were still “more restrictive” than allowed in law simply because the NV-SBOE believed they were authorized to “regulate” homeschooling no matter what the law actually said.  Further all 17 school districts wrote varying policies regarding homeschooling.  Local homeschool support groups stayed active by sending reps to the Northern and Southern Homeschool Advisory Councils that continued to meet quarterly addressing error-laden policies of local school districts attempting to add to the regulatory burden on homeschooling. 1999 R038-99 NAC 392 Adopted – 11.3.992002 R018-02Adopted.effective 5.29.02

More “wins” for NV Homeschool parents:

1999 – Homeschool students may participate in public school classes/activities.

AB 348  was co-sponsored by a large bi-partisan group of Legislators to establish charter schools in Nevada.  The bill also authorized homeschool students to participate in public school classes and extra-curricular activities.  The bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Guinn (R).  Homeschooled students submit a Notification of Intent to Participate in Programs and Activities (NOIPPA) when seeking to take a class or participate in an extra-curricular activity, they are not “enrolled” in the public school.

2002The first step towards autonomy from government control.

Nevada Homeschoool Network (NHN) is formed by homeschool parents  statewide to continue the battle for homeschool freedom in our state and in unison with other state homeschool organizations across the country.  The first item of business was to propose and rewrite the NV homeschool regulations (NAC) to better reflect the intent of the existing statute, NRS 392.070.

2003 – Changes enacted by the State Board of Education and the Legislature

  • New regulations proposed and approved.  NHN and the Northern (Frank Schnorbus, President) and Southern (Kime King-Patraw, President) Nevada Home School Advisory Councils were invited by the Vice-President of the NV State Board of Education, Gary Waters, to offer the “least restrictive” regulations possible under existing law to the SBOE and those would be passed.  With the assistance of HSLDA (Scott Sommerville, Esq.) new regulations were proposed in February of 2003 and approved in October. 2003.c R009-03Adopted.effective 10.30.03
HSLDA has archived the details of this effort and subsequent events to the present.*
Details are also available from the NHN Webmaster on an older version of the NHN website.**
  • NV homeschool students may participate in public school sports.  SB 503introduced by the Senate Committee on Finance, authorized homeschool students to “participate” in NIAA sports programs in the public schools.  The bill passed and was signed into by Governor Guinn (R).  Again, homeschool students submit a NOIPPA to the local school, they are not “enrolled” in the public school when participating in classes, activities, or sports.  The bill also established a definition of homeschooling: “Homeschooled child” means a child who receives instruction at home and who is exempt from compulsory attendance pursuant to NRS 392.070.”

2005 – Change continues – Independenc is coming.

  • February, 2005 – A homeschool study was commissioned by NHN through Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) impacting state and national education policies.  Homeschooling in Nevada: The Budgetary Impact says that public school educators should look at home and private school students as assets, not as liabilities. Because of these students, note authors John T. Wenders and Andrea D. Clements, Nevada school districts realize a net gain of between $25.9 and $42.7 million annually. (This research was upheld in 2017 showing that home and private school families save the nation 22 Billion dollars a year, How Much Money Each State Saves Thanks to Homeschooling.)


  • June 17, 2005 – Governor Kenny Guinn signed a bill that among other things, requires all social workers to be trained in their duty to protect an individual’s constitutional and statutory rights during an investigation.  They must inform you of the allegations against you during an investigation.  The original bill, SB 402 passed the Senate but did not get a hearing in the Assembly committee.  However, NHN and HSLDA learned It’s Not Over Til It’s Over!


  • October 31, 2005 – Additional amendments to the NAC were requested by NHN through the Advisory Councils in April of 2004 and finally approved in 2005… that is just another example of how slowly the regulatory process works and why homeschool parents  continue to push for full autonomy from government control of the education of their children.  Among other things, the new regulations restricted the NV-SBOE from writing over-restrictive regulations and local school districts from writing more restrictive policies than allowed by the NRS that NV homeschoolers had had to live under since 1983. NAC 392 adopted October 2005

2007 –  The Homeschool Freedom Bill is introduced in the NV State Legislature 

  • SB 404,  sponsored by State Senator Maurice Washington (R), was a bill to “codify” existing regulations. Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) had requested a Bill Draft Request (BDR) for “homeschooling” in 2006 before she left office and Senator Washington agreed to be the sponsor of the bill in 2007.
  • Frank Schnorbus and Barbara Dragon co-authored the bill, with legal counsel from HSLDA (Christopher J. Klicka Esq.).  The bill came out of the LCB exactly as we wrote it, a major accomplishment in and of itself, and a testament to the YEARS of experience we had in rewriting regulations and getting those approved.
  • NHN spearheaded the lobbying efforts to get the bill passed.  The Superintendent of Public Instruction at the time, Dr. Keith Rheault, was supportive of the bill.  In addition, then Assemblyman Mo Denis (D) was very helpful in ushering the bill through the NV Assembly.  
  • SB 404 unanimously passed both the NV Senate and Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Jim Gibbons (R) on June 14, 2007. 

  • During the Legislative bill process, NHN produced Answers to Good Questions to explain to Legislators why we had requested SB 404. Basically, the new law moved “homeschooling” out from under the oversight of NV-SBOE and gave parents the right to direct the education of their child based on the age and skill level of the child as determined by the parent.
  • By signing the Notification of Intent to Homeschool parents take FULL RESPONSIBILITY (including financial) to provide education of their child. Education neglect laws do apply to protect the interests of the child.  However, to date there has never been an accusation of education neglect against a parent in Nevada who has filed an NOI to Homeschool.
  • Nevada Administrative Codes NAC 392.011 to 392.065 are rescinded, homeschoolers are no longer under the over-sight of the NV State Board of Education

SB 404 PASSED Highlights

L to R:  Kelley Millard-Radow (NHN), Tina Goodman, Frank Schnorbus (NHN), Barbara Dragon (NHN), Governor Gibbons,  Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, Carl Lucas (NHN), Kime King-Patraw, Irene Rushing.   Not pictured:  Elissa Wahl (NHN), Laura Seigal (NHN), Lynn Chapman, Marita Sanders

Nevada homeschool parents have worked hard to not only educate their children well but to defend their right to do so.  Many parent groups have been formed throughout the state, beginning in 1983, always advancing the cause of homeschool freedom.

NHN was founded in 2002 as a “statewide organization” by parents living in both the north and the south to work together to protect the fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children via homeschooling.  Elissa Wahl and Frank Schnorbus were two of the original founding members of NHN who dedicated their time, effort, and resources to the success of the organization. Over the last 30 years Nevada parents have also worked hand in hand with HSLDA to advocate for parents who are doing a GOOD job educating their own children, without “help” or oversight from the government.

In hindsight, it is now interesting to compare and contrast the 1947 law and the skirmishes that ensued 1983-2007 with the following statement from a Nevada Supreme Court ruling in Schwarz v. Lopez, Pages 19-20  (2016 – regarding the NV-ESA bill, SB 302) reflecting the mindset of the writers of the NV Constitution in 1864 with regards to parental rights:

  • “And although the debates surrounding the enactment of Article 11 reveal that the delegates discussed the establishment of a system of public education and its funding, they also noted the importance of parental freedom over the education of their children, rejected the notion of making public school attendance compulsory, and acknowledged the need to vest the Legislature with discretion over education into the future. See Debates & Proceedings of the Nevada State Constitutional Convention of 1864, at 565-77 (Andrew J. Marsh off. rep., 1866); see also Thomas W. Stewart & Brittany Walker, Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts: A Constitutional Analysis (2016) (Nevada Supreme Court Summaries),, at 12-15 (discussing the history of Nevada Constitution Article 11, Section 2).”

There are SO many details I could add to this timeline… as well as the names of ALL the parents who participated in the process over the years.  But the list is long and I may forget someone!  If you were one of those parents we want to say THANK YOU for all you did to ensure that future generations would not suffer the intolerable regulations of days gone by.  And to all you parents just starting on your homeschool journey, WELCOME… you will succeed because you care!



The road to education liberty for NV homeschoolers was long… but we must remain vigilant to maintain our freedom.  To that end NHN keeps on working:

2009 – after a time consuming 2007 session we were hopeful 2009 would be easier… not so much.

We’re now in “defense” of any attempted changes to the new Homeschool Freedom Law. During the session NHN tracked over 2 dozen bills pertaining to “education, the family, and/or children.   We focused on defeating SB292 – Child’s “Best Interests” Attorney bill and SB378 – Early Childhood Education creating a state approved prekindergarten curriculum.

  • SB 292 (Care – D) died in the Assembly and although SB 378 (Senate Health & Education Committee, D controlled) passed both houses, NHN lobbied Governor Jim Gibbons (R) to veto the bill which he did on 5/28/2009.  Of note in the Governor’s Veto Message of SB 378 are the following statements,
    • “Early childhood education is critical for mental and emotional development and school preparedness. However, this is an area that has traditionally been left to parents.” (emphasis added)
    • “Requiring all state-funded preschools to follow this set curriculum would also restrict parental choice. It would allow wealthy parents to make free choices about their young child’s education but force those of less means into a program dictated by the state.  This establishes unequal access to educational choices for parents of varying income levels.” 

In future sessions Nevada parents will see Legislators repeatedly attempt to thwart parental choice which Governor Gibbons astutely warned against.

NHN 2009 Legislative Wrap-up

NHN Officers: Frank Schnorbus (Minden), Chair  ·  Barbara Dragon (Gardnerville), Treasurer  ·  Elissa Wahl (Las Vegas), Secretary · Carl Lucas (Lovelock) · Laura Siegal (Las Vegas) · Kelley Millard-Radow (Reno) · Missy Pique (Fallon)

2011 – Sometimes “quiet” is nice and this year proved to be just that.  

In order to introduce new and returning Legislators to homeschooling and our efforts to achieve homeschool freedom, NHN drafted a Letter of Introduction that we delivered to all legislators.  Two bills did affect homeschooling in a round about way and were easily amended to protect parents and children.

  • AB 171 (Benitez-Thompson, Smith – D; Denis, Kihuen – D) regarding charter schools but also would have changed our homeschool law to require homeschool parents to notify the local school district if they enrolled their child in an online public charter school.  But the DOE agreed to our request to have the charter school notify the school district if a formerly homeschooled child was enrolled to avoid “another step” for the parent.


  • AB 138 (Committee on Education – D controlled) was a bill “governing pupils” that deleted some “parent/child rights” language.  On HSLDA’s recommendation we requested an amendment to leave the language they were trying to delete.  Two of the three statutes we requested to leave on the books were not deleted per our request, one was.

 2011 Legislative Session Wrap-up

  • NHN Officers: Frank Schnorbus, Chair; Barbara Dragon, Treasurer; Elissa Wahl, Secretary; Laura Siegal,member; Kelley Millard-Radow

2013 – NHN joined with to introduce the “Fundamental Parental Rights” bill.  

We asked Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis (D) to sponsor SB 314 to secure fundamental parental rights for all parents in Nevada.  The bill codified court case president, acknowledging that parents have a “fundamental” right to direct the  health, education, and welfare of their children.  NHN Chairman, Frank Schnorbus wrote the information pamphlet,  The Right of Parents to Raise Their Child (and conversely the right of the child to be raised by his/her parent), explaining the need for such in a law in Nevada. attorneys Michael Farris, Esq. and Scott Woodruff, Esq. were instrumental during our lobbying efforts. The bill passed both the Nevada Senate and Assembly and was signed into law on 6/15/2013 by Governor Brian Sandoval (R).

Two other bills that threatened the very fundamental parental rights we were fighting for with SB 314 were successfully defeated this session.

  • AB 203 (Livermore – R) was a “grandparents visitation”  bill that would have threatened the rights of an “intact” family to determine who their children should associate with.  Existing law already allows grandparents to sue for visitation in cases where parents are divorced on one is deceased however, this bill sought allow grandparents to sue parents for visitation of their grandchildren even if the child’s parents choose not to allow visitation.  NHN argued that asking the state to usurp the parent-child relationship and decision making by granting legal recourse to the grandparents would be a violation of current court decisions uphold fundamental parental rights.  Legislators agreed and the bill “died in committee.”  Similar bills had been requested over previous sessions dating back to 2001 and all have met similar fates.


  • SB 182 (Smith – D) sought to lower the compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5 as well as mandate that “All-Day Kindergarten” be provided in every public school and that all 5 year olds attend (or enroll in a private school or homeschool).  NHN opposed the bill and later offered an amendment request to maintain a parent’s right to decide when the child was ready to attend school up to the age of seven.  Senator Smith did amend the bill though not as we originally requested.  However, in the end due to the “unfunded mandate” on local school districts regarding all-day kindergarten, this bill also died in committee.

It should be noted and remembered, that similar bills to these two have been requested over previous sessions dating back to 2001 (grandparents visitation) and 2007 (lowering the compulsory attendance age) and more than likely will be seen again.  HSLDA (J. Michael Smith, Esq.) partnered with NHN to defeat both these bills.

  • SB 445 (Education on behalf of the Governor) was a very innovative program that would have allowed businesses,financial institutions and others who pay an excise tax to make a donation to a scholarship organization to grant scholarships to children living in low-income families to attend private schools or an “accredited program of homeschool study.”  However, NHN was concerned with language that would have negated the freedom of these families to direct the education of their children currently provided under the Nevada homeschool law and return them to being “approved” by the local school district.  NHN provided an amendment to the bill to “fix” the problem but the Governor’s office refused to accept our suggestion.  On the day of the hearing for the bill, NHN had to begrudgingly oppose the bill.  The bill died in committee.

2013 Legislative Session Wrap-up

  • NHN Officers:  Frank Schnorbus, Chair (Minden); Elissa Wahl, Vice-Chair (Las Vegas); Barbara Dragon, Treasurer (Gardnerville); Kelley Millard Radow, Officer (Reno); Laura Siegal, Officer (Las Vegas); Ray Poole, Secretary (Gardnerville)

2015 – A session like no other to date!  

As always we hope that each session brings no threat to homeschool freedom, but this was not to be one of those, there seemed to be a fire everywhere we turned.  And the threat came from those we traditionally consider “our friends.”  For the first time since 1929, the Republicans controlled the State Senate and the Assembly!  A Republican was Governor as well.

By late 2014 we began to smell trouble in River City… not Iowa, but rather Carson City, NV.  Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) began touting a “government funded school choice” idea that would quietly make its way to passage in 2015 as a political tool to convince Republican lawmakers to vote for the largest tax increase in the history of Nevada (the Commerce Tax).  In fact, the Commerce Tax, written by Governor Sandoval (R), was exactly the same as the teacher’s union backed Margins Tax the voters of Nevada had rejected at the voting booth in 2014.  But I digress…

Having attended NPRI events in Reno and Las Vegas in November/December 2014, Barbara Dragon and Elissa Wahl spoke at these events against government funding of homeschooling due to the burdensome “strings” that would be attached with tax-payer funding.  In January, 2015 prior to the start of the Legislative Session NHN posted the following position statement, Alternative Education Funding Programs.  

  • SB 302 – (Hammond – R) The Educational Savings Account (ESA) bill made a surprise appearance on Friday, April 3rd (Good Friday!). The bill was scheduled for hearing on the of the deadline for bills to be heard in their first committee (if not heard they die). It was a “surprise” because the original bill was nearly totally rewritten by the sponsor of the bill, Senator Hammond, and national “school choice” advocates, The Friedman Foundation (now Ed Choice) just prior to the meeting.
    • NHN Officers had gone on record with Senator Hammond requesting that he protect HOMESCHOOL FREEDOM. However, although NHN Officers had been in constant contact with Senator Hammond on other bills, he never informed us of the intent to use the homeschool law as a “vehicle” for students to receive tax-payer funding from the state and the “controls” that go with it. Thankfully, Elissa Wahl was in attendance the day of the hearing and “opposed” the bill as written.
    • NHN was able to work with Senator Hammond and by Monday, April 6th we submitted an amendment to protect those parents who DO NOT wish to receive money from the state. Further, the bill was amended  to clearly state that a “homeschooled child” not an “opt-in child” who receives funding through the ESA program.  Details of what happened can be found here, Homeschooling vs ESA Grant.  In the end “homeschool freedom” was protected and kept separate from “government funded school choice” but as always, that freedom came with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

Click here for continuing updates on ESA program.   For more information on the impact of ESAs on homeschooling follow our blog; ESAs: Public-funded ED Choice vs. Self-funded Education Liberty

Other bills of addressed by NHN in 2015:

  • SB 25  – This bill was submitted by the Department of Education as a “house keeping” bill. However, section 2 of the bill was very concerning to NHN as it would give the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) authority to “Coordinate educational programs for children from birth through prekindergarten.”  NHN testified against Section 2 of SB 25 at the hearing and submitted this letter to Senate Education.  Other parent groups also opposed this intrusion on parental rights and the DOE withdrew Section 2 of SB 25 from the bill. A win!


  • SB 228 – (Gustavson – R) Student Right to Privacy bill.  NHN supported this bill.  Since this bill would protect ALL Nevada parents and their children whether enrolled in a public, private, or home school; Barbara Dragon, Elissa Wahl, Frank Schnorbus, Kelley Radow, and Ray Poole, Legislative Liaisons for, lobbied in support of SB 228 ; WHY DO WE NEED SB 228?
    • Will Estrada, Federal Relations Director for HSLDA also provided testimony on SB 228.
    • However, the Senate Education Committee Chairwoman, Senator Becky Harris (R) was not willing to bring the bill for a vote and instead [at the request of Senator Gustavson (R) and Senator Mo Denis (D)] agreed to amend two protective sentences from the bill into another “student privacy bill”.  A sentence declaring that a student’s personally identifiable information and data “belongs” to the student was amended into SB 463 (letter in support of SB 463 – 5.1.15).  SB 463 (Senate Education Committee – R controlled) was passed by the full Senate. However, the protective language from SB 228 was DELETED by amendment (letter in opposition to the SB 463 amendments – 5.15.15) by the Republican controlled Assembly Education Committee as was other protective language in the bill.  A very watered down version of SB 463 was passed by the Assembly and “concurred with” by the Senate. A loss.


  • AB 221 – (Kirner – R) This bill did not affect homeschooling but was a “companion” bill to SB 463 mentioned above. The bill was intended to protect public school student information and data collected by the public school, the school district and the Department of Education but in reality was only a “sunshine bill”; meaning the DOE and local school districts must tell parents what info/data is being collected on their child and allow for “corrections” to the information/data to be made, as requested by the parent or student over the age of 18. opposed AB 221 and submitted this letter to the Assembly Education Committee – 3.23.15 Here again, there were many amendments in both houses to this bill before it was eventually passed and signed into law by the Governor.


  •  SB 126 – (Senate Education – R controlled)  NHN opposed language calling for “regulation and evaluation” of “any early childhood education and prekindergarten programs at both private and public schools”. NHN also opposed language in the bill allowing public school officials to “conduct a survey AT THE HOME of child whose primary language is not English”. In both cases the problematic language was removed by amendment. However, the amended bill was never brought for a vote and “died” in committee. Another win!


  • SB 117 – (Health & Human Services – R controlled) A bill adding two new vaccinations required for “school enrollment” also died in committee. NHN did not take a position on this bill but did notify homeschool parents and friends of homeschooling that this bill was being considered.

The passage of SB 302 (ESA) and AB 165 (Choice Scholarship Program)  created new numbering within the Nevada Revised Statutes for “Alternative School Choices” encompassing:

  • Homeschooling (parent funded/directed education)  NRS 388D.010-070
  • ESA Opt-in child (government funded/controlled education) – NRS 388D.100-140
  • Educations services for children employed in the entertainment industry (government or employer paid tutoring services) – NRS 388D.200
  • NV Educational Choice Scholarship Program (donation based for qualified low-income children to pay private school tuition) – NRS 388D.250-280

2015 Legislative Wrap-up

  • NHN Officers:  Frank Schnorbus, Chairman; Elissa Wahl, Vice-Chair;  Barbara Dragon, Treasurer; D. Raymond Poole, Secretary; Kelley Millard Radow, Officer; Aaron Sutherland, Officer; Matt Alder, Officer

2016 – Nevada Supreme Court rules on lawsuits against the NV ESA.

In late 2015 two lawsuits were filed to stop implementation of the NV ESA program established by SB 302.  The decision handed down by the NV Supreme Court on September 29, 2016 in Schwartz v. Lopez revealed some noteworthy comments with regards to the rights of parents in making decisions regarding their children’s education.  The court found that delegates to Nevada State Constitutional Convention of 1864 discussed the education of Nevada children in depth, “And although the debates surrounding the enactment of Article 11 reveal that the delegates discussed the establishment of a system of public education and its funding, they also noted the importance of parental freedom over the education of their children, rejected the notion of making public school attendance compulsory, and acknowledged the need to vest the Legislature with discretion over education into the future.” (Page 19) [Emphasis added]

In addition to referencing original documents from the 1864 Constitutional Convention, the court also references a Nevada Supreme Court Summary,  Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts- A Constitutional Analysis by Thomas W. Stewart and Brittany Walker.   Comments relative to parental choice and control of their children’s education are highlighted on pages 12-15.  This discussion, sometime in the future, may be of great importance to parents choosing to homeschool their children should the Nevada Legislature attempt to infringe on the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

2017 –  Government always says they know what is best for children.  FALSE.

That was the theme of at least one bill during this year’s session.

  • AB 186 – (Diaz) proposed (yet again!) to lower the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5, mandate Kindergarten attendance, and force public schools to offer prekindergarten with no additional funding. NHN Officers met with Assemblywoman Diaz early in the session to express our concerns for taking the responsibility of parents to decide when their child is ready for school out of their hands.  But she decided to move ahead with her bill because she believes that although homeschool parents are competent to decide, other parents are not and she’s “protecting children.”  NHN and HSLDA joined forces to defeat this piece of legislation.  Thankfully, the bill languished in the Assembly Ways & Means committee for lack of funding and died in committee.


  • SB 506 (Senate Education for Governor Sandoval) – This was a “funding” bill for the ESA program that passed in 2015 but that the NV Supreme Court declared unconstitutional and placed an injunction on the program until the funding mechanism was corrected.  To correct the problem, the Governor proposed to fund the program with $60 million from the state’s general fund (not the Distributive School Account).  However, the now Democratic controlled Legislature chose to to ignore the bill and it too died in committee.  NHN watched the bill closely to ensure that “homeschooling” was not written back into the program limiting the rights of self-funding homeschool parents.

2017 Legislative Session Wrap-up

  • NHN Officers: Elissa Wahl (Las Vegas), NHN Chairwoman; Matt Alder (Reno), NHN Vice-Chairman; Kelley Millard-Radow (Reno), Treasurer; D. Raymond Poole (Gardnerville), Secretary; Aaron Sutherland (Reno), Officer; Kristi Casaus (Reno), Officer             Barbara Dragon, Officer Emerita-2016 (active); Frank Schnorbus, NHN Chair Emeritus 2017

In even years NHN is not idle.  During “off years” we are continually advocating for homeschool freedom and parental rights; addressing issues raised by parents, educators, school districts, politicians, public policy groups, government bureaucrats, journalists… the list goes on and on; and helping families new homeschooling to get started.

We invite any interested homeschool parent to join our team.  Potential Officers spend a year on our email loop “learning the ropes” so you’ll be well equipped before becoming a voting member. Please contact us via our email contact page if interested, we’d love to have you!

*HSLDA has an archived history of Nevada homeschool freedom events, 2002-present.

** Contact the NHN Webmaster for 2002-2008 history from an older version of the NHN website.

Info-Graphic:  The History of Home Schooling in America