A national report card on public school funding gives Nevada a failing grade, across all categories, ranking the state the worst in the nation. Nevada is the only state to get failing grades across the board. States were graded by the Education Law Center in three categories: funding level, funding distribution, and funding effort.
Based on this report, the largest teachers union in the Silver State, Clark County Education Association (CCEA) says they will be pushing for an additional $200 million in funding when the legislative session opens in February. They say there is a projected state budget surplus of over a billion dollars and some of that money should go to schools.
According to Fox5:
John Vellardita, Executive Director of Clark County Education Association, Nevada’s largest teacher’s union, says the report comes as no surprise.
“I think it states the obvious. I think the most significant report that has been issued related to Nevada’s public education system is the one issued by the Commission on School Funding and that report was issued in November. That report proposes a 10-year plan to invest over $200 million each year in our K-12 system to get us to the national average of per pupil funding,” Vellardita explained.
Not only does Nevada rank in the bottom five for funding per pupil, but Nevada’s funding distribution was also deemed the worst in the nation. The report found students in districts where poverty was low averaged $12,898 in funding per student, while in high-poverty districts the average dropped to just $9,382 a student.
The report from the Education Law Center found when the Covid-19 pandemic began, it exposed funding inadequacies and inequities, especially in low-income communities. Many schools were not equipped to educate students during a public health crisis lacking technology and access to support staff.
“We have a teacher shortage here on a scale I would describe as a crisis.
In Southern Nevada, we have close to 30,000 kids that started the school year and will end the school year and they won’t have a full-time licensed professional, they will have either a substitute or some kind of makeshift classroom for them to learn. That is not the appropriate classroom setting for a student to learn,” Vellardita added.
Yet, even prior to the pandemic, kids weren’t learning.
As reported by The Globe,
According to a recent analysis published by Scholaroo, Nevada ranks 49th in education, barely edging out last-place Oklahoma. The metrics measured educational attainment and school quality. Nevada also ranked 46th in school systems which measured student access, school quality and student safety.
The analysis concludes: Nevada ranks 49th in educational attainment, 42nd in school quality, 46th in best school systems in America, 47th in numeracy rate and literacy rate, 49th in drop out rate, 48th in master degrees, and last in the share of doctorate degrees in the nation.
In yet another abysmal report, testing scores of 3rd to 8th grade students in Clark County, taken and published by Smart Balance Assessments, show that only 3.9 percent of Black students and 7.4 percent of Hispanic students were proficient in Math. In English, 11.2 percent of Black students and 15.7 percent of Hispanic students were proficient. Overall, only 20 percent of Clark County students tested proficient in English Language Arts. In math, it was 11.5 percent.
In individual categories, the Las Vegas area ranked 49th for academic growth, 42nd for growth among disadvantaged students, 28th for metropolitan area progress and 42nd for high school graduation rate.
Also reported by The Globe, the history of raising taxes for education has not produced a rise in educational outcomes as politically predicted.
The largest tax increase in Nevada state history–$1.1 billion to reform K-12 education and signed into law by Republican Governor Sandoval in 2015, apparently wasn’t enough to fund the needs for education. According to reports, those who voted for the bill saw it as a major victory for education. They believed the measure would help bring forth many expanded education programs, including one to help English language learners and another to ensure Nevada students read by third grade.
Likewise, neither were the taxes from legalizing marijuana in 2016 enough. At that time, voters were told that the taxes from the revenues generated from marijuana sales would benefit education. In the first year, the revenue for marijuana sales tax of $69 million surpassed alcohol sales tax revenue.
Two years later, in his first year in office, Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak mandated that 10% of marijuana sales tax revenue to be deposited into the state’s distributive school account (DSA).
In 2020, amid the pandemic and shutdown, Nevada saw a record level of tax revenue from marijuana sales. The state collected nearly $100 million in marijuana tax revenue.
To put these numbers in perspective, in 2018, the largest school district in Nevada, the Clark County School District (CCSD) budget was $2.4 billion. The district ranked 35th in the nation in education.
In 2019, with a similar budget, the district ranked 50th. The budget for their 2021 school year is $2.6 billion.
It is also worth noting that $200 million has been allocated for K-12 education from the state’s share of $2.7 billion in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP). This allocation must be approved by the legislature which convenes in February 2023. It is unclear if this $200 million allocation is what the CCEA will be pushing for, however, this allocation is due to a one-time influx of federal tax dollars and will not be available for future needs unless other streams of revenue (taxes) are raised.
Politicians have previously taxed mining, marijuana, casinos and tax payers (multiple times over) but have yet to produce any results proving that raising taxes yields better educational outcomes. In fact, according to this recent analysis, the outcomes have gotten progressively worse.
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