The front of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City on Wednesday afternoon was filled with educators, parents and children there to demand better funding and wages for all those who work in education.
There were close to 500 people in attendance who said they wanted to make it clear to legislators that something needed to change for educators to stay in their positions — or many will leave the state. During the rally, state legislators, many who were done working at 5 p.m., were met with a wall of people demanding they be heard.
“Today is a rainy day in Nevada. We’re having our ‘Time for 20’ rally to call for a 20% salary increase for all our Nevada educators, a $20 minimum wage in our schools and 20 students per class size,” said Alexander Marks with the Nevada State Education Association. “Educators are excited for how much money is in play but they’re also frustrated that it hasn’t been given to them without a lot of fighting and advocacy.”
“If today is not a rainy day, we’re not sure what is.”
According to an article by KUNR, there is more than $2 billion in Nevada’s rainy day fund. The name of this fund was used often during the rally where organizers stated that the current weather outlook in Nevada is “rainy” and should therefore be used to fund educators with money that already exists.
When discussing a proposed bill, which starts to address the lack in funding for education, Marks said:
“It’s a good start for Time for 20, it gets about halfway there. We have an amendment tomorrow that we’re introducing that will be doubling the $250 million to $500 million and we want to get rid of that bureaucratic matching scheme. The people out here deserve a clean 20% raise, we don’t need bureaucratic matching whatevers — that’s messy. These people deserve to be paid.”
Marks said Nevada’s educators are some of the lowest paid in the U.S., with some education support professionals making only $11 an hour – just 75 cents above minimum wage.
He added that the teacher wage gap is about 22-23% nationally.
“We’re approaching about $3 billion in our rainy day reserves, that’s why we’re calling it a rainy day,” Marks said. “If today is not a rainy day, we’re not sure what is.”
According to the Nevada State Report Card, there are more than 27,000 teachers employed throughout the state with a student population of more than 486,000.
Between four different subjects – English, math, science, and social studies – the average class sizes for each of these subjects are 26, 25, 27 and 27 respectively. The statewide student to teacher ratio averages 22:1.
People at the rally, many of whom were teachers, said that if things don’t change soon they would have to move out of the state to better provide for their families. Seeing such a large surplus of state funds not being used for such an important issue has frustrated many who say this has been going on for far too long.