This week, the National Education Association released their annual Ranking of the States for 2022, and Nevada continues to struggle.
At $11,280 per-pupil last year, Nevada once again ranks 48th in the country, more than $5000 behind the national average and about $1000 behind both Alabama and Mississippi. In this room two years ago, legislative leaders lauded the “historic” funding provided to public schools. Unfortunately, this funding only resulted in maintaining Nevada’s position near the bottom of the list. This session, we again have heard about “historic” funding efforts. However, the Commission on School Funding has already testified that most of the additional proposed funding will go towards increasing costs. If serious additional efforts are not this session to boost education funding, NSEA will likely be back here in two years with a newly released NEA report showing Nevada still ranking in the mid to high 40’s.
NSEA has often discussed the crisis of educator vacancies in Nevada schools. From FY21 to FY22 the total number of teachers in Nevada declined by nearly 1200 teachers or 5% of the workforce. The NEA projects Nevada will lose more than 2000 more teachers this year, a net 10% reduction— by far the largest projected reduction in the nation. That’s why we say it is Time for 20, a 20% raise for every Nevada educator, so we can stop the bleeding of our workforce.
We know Nevada has a serious vacancy problem in education support professionals, including paraprofessionals who are integral to student learning and bus drivers who are responsible for getting students to and from school. The NEA reported this week that the average Nevada education support professional earns $37,210/year. That’s nearly $20,000 less than what is needed for a family of two to have a modest standard of living. That’s why we say it’s Time for 20, starting pay of $20/hour for workers who make our schools run.
Meanwhile, Nevada once again ranks first in the nation in class size with nearly 22 students in average daily attendance per teacher. Nevada’s largest in the nation class sizes don’t just impact student learning. They are a serious working condition issue for classroom educators and also contribute to issues of student behavior and school safety. As we’ve heard, there’s no way to effectively implement restorative justice when you have 40 or more students in a classroom. That’s why we say it’s Time for 20, with class sizes of 20 students.
It's a rainy day in Nevada schools. That’s why it is irresponsible to continue to underfund education with $2.4 billion slated for reserves. NSEA encourages legislators to keep moving forward toward optimal funding, not just running in place, so we can ensure a high-quality education for every Nevada student.