Governor Lombardo’s proposals fail to meet the moment; voucher scheme a dangerous distraction.
Amidst an unprecedented educator shortage, the Nevada State Education Association launched Time For 20, calling for a 20% increase in educator pay; at least $20 per hour for the workers who make our schools run; and average class sizes of 20 students to address overcrowding. In the year since the launch of Time for 20, the case for bold action and investment in public schools has grown louder in all corners of the state.
Dawn Etcheverry is President of the Nevada State Education Association and a music teacher in Washoe County.
“Tonight, we heard no bold proposals to fix the ongoing crisis in our schools. Instead, Governor Lombardo dusted off a failed voucher scheme that will do nothing to improve the quality of education in Nevada. Transferring more public tax dollars to private schools is the wrong answer. Educators know what works, and if we are serious about getting every Nevada student and family access to a quality education, our elected leaders need to adequately fund our public schools. That’s why we say it’s Time for 20.”
With the expansion of “opportunity scholarships” under the previous administrations as well as the expansion of charter schools, there has never been more school choice in Nevada. And yet, Nevada continues to fall further behind in most education metrics. The use of soft language like “opportunity scholarships” or “the office of school choice” does not minimize the toxicity of voucher schemes designed to divert funding from public schools, undermine support for public education, and contribute to re-segregation.
Brian Wallace, Vice President of the Nevada State Education Association and middle school technology teacher in Carson City.
“Our schools are at a breaking point, but we know how to fix it. Pay educators more so we’re competitive, improve working conditions for better morale, and respect us and the work we do.”
In December, the Economic Policy Institute released a report finding there is a widespread national teacher shortage that is especially severe in districts and schools with high percentages of low-income students and students of color. They also found the current shortage is not the result of an insufficient number of qualified teachers, but rather low pay and an increasingly stressful work environment. The average pay differential between teachers and other college graduates has grown to 23.5%.
With a $1B surplus and a projected budget increase of $2.3B over the next biennium, Nevada has the resources available to make a major investment in Time for 20. In November of 2022, the Commission on School Funding released its plan to get Nevada to “optimal funding” within the next 10 years, including consensus proposals for new revenue for public education. Sadly, Governor Lombardo’s budget proposal for public education falls short on Time for 20 and on the recommendations of the Commission on School Funding.
NSEA encourages the Governor and the Legislature to not let this historic opportunity pass and NSEA will continue to amplify the voice of thousands of educators across the state during the 82nd Legislative Session