Charter Schools, Deserts, and Quality School Options

This report, issued last month by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, discussed “charter school deserts” in communities where families do not have access to quality charter school options within a practical distance.  The analysis lists, “Central/northwest/northeast parts of the Last Vegas metro area, central/western/northern parts of the Reno metro area,” as Nevada’s most prominent “charter school desert” regions.

To be certain, Las Vegas is in a desert.  And more, high-quality schools, including schools of choice, would represent valuable education opportunities for families in those areas, many of which are underserved by quality public schools.

Some of Nevada’s newest charter schools, including those under the jurisdiction of the Achievement School District like Futuro Academy and the soon-to-open Nevada Prep, have done an inspiring job marketing their school to otherwise educationally underserved communities, and finding ways to locate their campuses where families there can access them.  For other schools, however, finding viable facilities in underserved areas and a dearth of effective public transportation options has made it extremely difficult for schools of choice to serve those families most in need.

The Nevada Educational Opportunity Scholarship program presents one potentially valuable way to help schools serve families with the most limited options (this summer we will launch an initiative we think will help).  Hopefully, Nevada policymakers will continue to explore ways to help schools of choice locate nearest those families most in need of the opportunities they have to offer.