In the wake of the horrific event at El Dorado High School earlier in 2022, Vickie Kreidel, a teacher and President of the NEA of Southern Nevada said, “The young woman who was attacked, her life will never be the same. You can’t cross your fingers and hope for the best. What happened shows that’s not going to work. They haven’t done enough. Whatever talks have happened is not enough. It is too late for committees. It is too late for town halls.”
High-profile school violence events are not new and not limited to Clark County or the 2013 shooting at Sparks Middle School, which took the life of teacher Michael Landsberry. NSEA has consistently heard alarming concerns about personal safety from our members across the state. That’s why we have a long history of engagement on the issue of educator safety and student disciplinary practice. NSEA spearheaded the creation of the progressive student discipline system decades ago and during the 2019 session, we were the only stakeholder group raising public concerns during the discussion of implementing restorative justice in AB168. We believe a strong restorative discipline system could reduce incidents where educators sustain injuries. However, this system needs to be proactive, implemented district-wide, and will require much greater attention and significant new resources.
Last interim, NSEA proposed an Educator Bill of Rights to improve educator safety and to respect educator voice, but our proposal was largely disregarded. Since the pandemic, the situation in schools seems to have deteriorated further. A delayed and poor statewide implementation of AB168 has left many schools and school districts unsure about the student discipline system, opting for little to no student discipline at all. The pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues. And a historic educator shortage, with thousands of vacant positions across the state in addition to the structural shortage with the largest class sizes in the country, makes it nearly impossible to implement even the best plans for school safety and student discipline. Meaningful resources for student mental health and a real investment in the implementation of a restorative justice system are long overdue.
The Respect Educators Act would elevate the safety, well-being, and autonomy of educators in their work. This includes real accountability for any violence committed against educators and giving educators the tools necessary to deal with disruptive behavior. The Respect Educators Act also calls for the creation of a monitoring committee including educators from across the state, legislators, and NDE to gain a clear understanding of the impact of the laws, ensure consistent implementation, and secure protection for all students and educators.
Educator voice in the classroom and at the worksite is also a key component of the Respect Educators Act. This includes guaranteeing educators have their professional judgment and discretion respected by school and district administrators; are treated with civility and respect; are not required to complete excessively burdensome paperwork; are afforded adequate time during the work week for lesson planning and collaborations with other teachers; have greater autonomy regarding student grading; are able to better enforce student attendance requirements; and have fair work evaluations.
To address these concerns, NSEA SUPPORTS:
- Creation of a restorative practices monitoring committee including educators from across the state, legislators, and NDE to gain a clear understanding of the impact of the laws, ensure consistent implementation, and secure protection for all students and educators.
- Greater autonomy regarding student grading and enforcing student attendance requirements.
- Adequate time during work hours for lesson planning and collaborations with other teachers and reduction of excessively burdensome paperwork.
- Allowing active educators to serve on their elected school boards and/or appointing an NSEA member to serve in an advisory capacity at school board meetings.
The Respect Educators Act is part of NSEA's Legislative Platform for the 2023 Legislative Session. You can read more about the platform here.