The Nevada State Education Association has been the voice of Nevada educators for over 120 years. NSEA is an affiliate of the National Education Association, the primary driver for federal investment in public education to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our schools. Leading up to the passage of the American Rescue Plan, NEA members across the country wrote hundreds of thousands of messages and placed thousands of calls to their representatives advocating for Congress to make the largest investments ever in education.
Our efforts helped secure $1.5 billion for Nevada schools.
Right now, school districts across the state are not fully able to meet the needs of their communities. We have bus routes without drivers, classrooms without highly qualified teachers, and other vacancies for critical school employees. When teachers are absent for medical reasons or required professional development, a substitute may not be available, further burdening an exhausted teaching corps that must fill the gaps. As of last December, Nevada reported over 1200 teacher vacancies. A check of the Washoe County School District job site this morning listed 183 open certified positions, up from a few weeks ago.
The situation is not improving and despite unprecedented resources available, there is very little included in the state’s ARP ESSER Plan to effectively address this issue.
While the Department has received approval to spend $15.4M for teacher recruitment and retention, this is a very small percentage of overall ESSER funds. Specific projects included in this category are focused on expanding professional development. While some professional development is necessary, it must be both meaningful and wanted by the educator to be effective. Usually, professional development is not individualized, adds more to the plate of already over-burdened teachers, and does not provide sufficient time to plan, practice, and implement the learning. Do you really believe that it is a skills deficit or lack of enough to do prompting educators to leave the profession? No.
The real factors pushing educators out of teaching, like low pay, overcrowding, and unrealistic workloads are not addressed.
Meanwhile, when the legislature provided the opportunity to remove an item from teacher workloads this school year by passing AB57 to temporarily pause the use of student learning goals (SLGs) in teacher evaluations, the Nevada Department of Education issued a guidance memorandum encouraging districts to require teachers to do SLGs anyway.
Most school districts, including Clark County and Carson City, deferred to NDE, and this limited opportunity to actually ease teacher workloads was squandered.
As we work our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, our schools and their operations continue to suffer. With unprecedented resources available, we would hope Nevada would do more to make sure the job of educator is appropriately compensated, and workplace issues like class size, caseloads, over-burdening professional responsibilities, and the valuing educator voice and agency in their work are adequately addressed. Thank you.