The Nevada Department of Education officials try hard convince the general public that they are indeed set out to assist all educators, parents, community leaders, and others in making sure that Nevadans were provided with all necessary opportunities for personal and professional growth.
However, their dedication to the vision “All Nevadans ready for success in the global 21st Century” seems rather unconvincing after their engagement with promoting excellence within the state’s educational system has been qualified as poor by hundreds of public education advocates who rallied in the state’s capital Carson City at the beginning of this year.
And apparently, the data shows for it, since public schools in Nevada rank last or near last in the nation for student to teacher ratio and in other important categories like funding per pupil. According to the web page of the National Education Association’s initiative Red for Ed, 1 out of 5 educators must take another job in order to get through the month. Additionally, 71% of people think teachers are not paid enough and 16% less funding goes to districts with the highest poverty.
The National Education Association (NEA) is considered to be the voice of education professionals, with a clearly stated mission to, quote, advocate for education professionals and to unite members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.
NEA stands for 6 core principles:
- Equal Opportunity for all students, since it is their human and civil right have access to quality public education that develops their potential, independence, and character.
- A Just Society, since public education is vital to building respect for the worth, dignity, and equality of every individual in the diverse American society.
- Democracy, since public education must provide individuals with the skills to be involved, informed, and engaged in the American democracy.
- Professionalism, since the expertise and judgment of education professionals are critical to student success.
- Partnership, since partnerships with parents, families, communities, and other stakeholders are essential to quality public education and student success.
- Collective Action, since individuals are strengthened when they work together for the common good.
As an organization made up of individuals who advocate collectively for the cause of bringing quality education to every student, regardless of family income or place of residence, NEA’s members are revolted by the apparent lack of interest of the Nevada Department of Education officials in implementing a new and improved system which will benefit this very category of students.
About the Nevada Department of Education
The Department’s responsibilities include governing complex processes such as licensure of new educators, adoption of academic content standards, reporting of school performance, and the administration of federal and state appropriations. Under such circumstances, the Department is both directly and indirectly involved in the achievement of the nearly half a million school-aged children and approximately 30,000 adults seeking high school education.
The State Educational Goals are supposed to ensure that all students are proficient in reading by the end of 3rd grade and that they enter high school with the skills necessary to succeed, graduate college and have a career, after learning in an environment that is physically, emotionally, and intellectually safe. However, they seem to be failing the at-risk students, as well as the educators – on a large scale.
Many of the rally’s participants place the blame on the Nevada Plan, in alignment to which schools have been funded since 1967. The Nevada plan is generating funding based on district-specific characteristics, not student-specific characteristics, leaving students of color, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, disproportionately affected by the outdated system.
One of the greatest challenges educators in the state of Nevada face is the class size. According to them, the number of students exceeds the criteria which ensures that learning is being associated with positive outlooks and feelings of enlightenment. One of the participants at the rally claimed he teaches a class with over 40 kids in the classroom.
About the Red for Ed rally
The rally itself was a call for increased funding for K-12 education in Nevada. K-12 is a term used in education and educational technology in the United States, Canada, and possibly other countries and it stands for the publicly-supported school grades prior to college, with the grades being kindergarten (K) in the 1st through the 12th grade (1-12).
Responsible for managing the state’s public K-12 education is the Nevada State Board of Education, a branch of the Nevada Department of Education. The board’s mission to improve student achievement and educator effectiveness by, quote, ensuring opportunities, facilitating learning, and promoting excellence – remains on paper, as the numbers show a discrepancy between that ideal and reality.
The Red for Ed rally came back to Carson City on May 22, calling out lawmakers to resolve the issue of deficit which is evident in many of Nevada’s different counties. Once again, the lack of funds which results in large class sizes and outdated materials was strongly addressed by the rally’s participants.
Currently, the state of Nevada spends about $8,000 per student compared to other states like Vermont, which spends $18,000 per pupil, leaving it up to educators to help the students and schools increase achievement and simultaneously defend, by all means, the sanctity of their profession.