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January 25, 2015

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Nevada Wonk


Las Vegas teachers protest proposed education cuts


Leila Navidi

Harney Middle School teachers David Frobes, from left, a U.S. History teacher, Tom Figueroa, a math teacher, and Jeff Bagford, an algebra teacher stage a protest off school ground after walking out at 2:41 p.m. the end of their contractual workday Wednesday, April 27, 2011.

Teacher Walkout

Harney Middle School teachers stage a protest off school ground after walking out at 2:41 p.m., the end of their contractual workday Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Launch slideshow »

At 2:41 p.m. Wednesday, the front doors to Harney Middle School swung open and half a dozen teachers marched out.

They stopped quickly at their cars to grab signs, then took post just beyond school property to greet a stream of parents picking up their children.

Their signs listed names of local schools where fine arts programs have been slashed and equated funding and teachers with students' futures.

The teachers were protesting Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposed cuts to education. It was a scene that played out across Las Vegas.

About 45 teachers at Cadwallader Middle School also protested. They got the idea from teachers at Miller and Greenspun middle schools, who have been walking out of classrooms every day at 2:41 p.m. for a few weeks.

The time is significant. At 2:41 p.m., teachers' contract hours end, meaning their official work day is over.

Normally, the teachers stay late to grade papers, tutor students or run extracurricular activities. Many reported regularly working 50 or 60 hour weeks, without overtime pay.

Not anymore.

"If we're not going to get pay increases or stable pay, we're only going to work from 7:30 a.m. to 2:41 p.m." as dictated by contract, Harney English teacher and girls' basketball coach Brandi Thomas said. "Obviously, working extra hours helps the kids, but this is for the kids, too."

The teachers worry that Sandoval's proposed education cuts will further decimate K-12 education. They said they've already seen it happen. Choir programs, language classes and extracurriculars have been shuttered. Support staff has been let go.

Clark County school officials expect cuts of up to $400 million if Sandoval's budget is approved.

"I work really hard for what I earn," Cadwallader geography teacher Brian Boothe said. "I'm not trying to earn $100,000 a year, but I want to be respected."

At Cadwallader, several students joined their teachers to protest. The teachers vowed to continue until education funding is restored.

Saturday, members of the Clark County Education Association will join parents, students and other union workers to rally for education at Cashman Field. They have a singular message for the Legislature: You can't cut public education funding and expect students to succeed.

A plan also is in the works for a district-wide teacher walk out Monday, the start of "Teacher Appreciation Week."

"We don't get paid for our overtime, and we're not looking for that," Thomas said. "We just want things to remain stable for the kids. The only way we're going to fix Nevada is these students."

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  1. There should also be an upper limit to the number of students in any class. Cut it off right at the number.

  2. Every CCSD employee and every NSHE employee should be there with them.

  3. Some of the things folks do not see is the inside politicing that is now going on within schools, pitting teacher against teacher for next year's positions. It is real hard to have any kind of unified rally with the inward bickering going on.

    Also, you have the factor of NON-UNION teachers and support staff who are magically getting positions/or place holder positions for now. The general public is NOT aware of the many battles going on these days.

    We are very concerned about instructional hours and minutes (a critical issue), adequate environmental conditions for student learning, continued technology support, and students getting the needed coursework completed for advancement. It is a tall order and all requires funding and a long term commitment to fund, not this continual fly by night every other year battle over funding that Nevada foolishly follows for lack of a better plan and solid leadership.

    How is it, that a state, so rich in natural mineral, solar, wind, and gas resources, plus the gaming and resort industries, does not find the wealth in taxes to fund its infrastructure richly?
    There is something terribly wrong here.

    Teachers will continue to carry signs, and make their voices heard. But will anyone listen?
    As we all know, Nevada has some of the worst students in the nation, and listening is not a strength for many here, let alone comprehending.

  4. Sandm, my contract is for 7 hours and 11 minutes per day, for 184 days a year. That's ALL I am paid for. I am not required to stay past my contract time, which for me is 2:01. I do so because I care about my students, not because I am required to do it. Anything I do outside of contract hours I am doing for free. I am not protesting on the "company dime", but rather my own time. Let me ask you this-- would you work for your private employer beyond your scheduled work time for no extra money? No? Then why should I?

  5. Last time I checked, Strong was spelled S T R O N G; just like on the sign. Maybe the $ used for the S confused you?

    Dismissal time is 2:41 for middle school teachers. They aren't protesting on company time; thus the "Working only contract hours" protest. They walk on campus at beginning of the time they are paid, and are walking off when it ends.

    No one is required to stay until 4:30 or 5. Teachers who stay after school each night until 4:30 or 5 (or 6-7 like me) don't get paid for those hours.

    How many private employees give their employer 3-4 hours of unpaid time every day, and come in on their days off?

  6. Retiredgenius, how about some facts to disprove what you're saying? Check out this data: If education doesn't matter, like you say, then how are these facts possible? I think the problem is that people of your ilk make stuff up to support whatever position you believe in. I certainly believe that you were successful without a formal education, but you are the exception and not the rule. And those are the FACTS.

  7. jzetzman & teachers:

    Help me understand here; does your 7:11 per day include any time for lunch? Are you paid for lunch or other breaks during the day? What is the breakdown of your salary divided by number of hours per 7:11 workday (minus lunch) divided by 184 workdays per year?

  8. Call your legislator at 1-800-978-2728 and DEMAND that they support education and vote against Gov. Sandogibbons devastating future for Nevada. End this budget and start over. Just like his predecessor, Brian Sandogibbons does not care about our children or working families. Only the corporations and the rich get tax breaks. The rest of us can eat cake.

  9. Jackie- If that's what you believe, come do my job for a week. ALL of it, planning, meetings, defending your practices, the research, deal with the parents, the kids who lick themselves, hum, sleep, and throw things at you...Plan lessons for teaching 1st -6th grade reading levels all in the same 90 minutes and then children who use their fingers to add to 10 and students who can multiply 2 digit by 2 digit numbers in their head all in the same 70 minutes, teach English to the child who just moved to this country and then teach them all manners and social etiquette. I am an expert in 7 subjects and 6 grade levels; but I only "teach" 1 grade level. I dare you to do my job if you think I only teach because I can't do anything else.

    You're right, I can walk away. Yes I did choose teaching, and yes, I didn't go into teaching for the money.... but that does not make me a door mat, it does not mean I have to take the insults or disrespect. And it sure as hell doesn't mean I have to leave the country.

    And yes, I could have a job in Finance, Business or even Engineering. I actually would be very successful. I'd be successful in whatever I chose to do. It's called education and I am dang smart.

    Now, if Jose and Shaniqua (nice racist names there) can't read by 8th grade, what makes you think that a teacher staying after school for 2 hours without the children, will change that? Just curious.

    JLOKC- it works out differently for each teacher. However, with a Master's Degree and 15 years experience it works out to roughly 30 an hour for at work time. We don't get paid for 30 minutes lunch, but I work through mine every day and often have kids in for tutoring and detention (despite it being contracted no student unpaid time). Prep time is paid, but it is for meetings, grading, parent conferences, report cards, progress reports, planning, etc. and is only 50 minutes. (when my doctorate is done, it will only add about 3 bucks per hour if I'm lucky)

    What "breaks" are you talking about? We don't get any other then our lunch and prep.

  10. Gotta laugh at the haters...

    Teacher Bashers are a dime a dozen in this burg, and not a one of em' has a lick of sense.

    "We've thrown money at teachers for years!"
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!

    Man, that's a hardy knee-slapper, tbvegas!

    Another favorite;
    "They hardly put in any hours. They get paid for THAT?"
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!
    Man, you guys are really ON TONIGHT, but STOP! My side hurts!

    And this made-up malarky, courtesy of the Right-wing NutJob Machine:
    "The money just isn't there."
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!
    THAT WHOPPER has really become a MULTI-PURPOSE, catch-all line of B.S. no matter WHAT the question is. Getting a LOT of TRACTION out of that one, state AND fedrul.

    It's been a hoot, as always!

    Pat must be "tied up" with all his Wranglin' & Ropin' & Rustlin', or I am SURE he would weigh in with a few doozies himself.

  11. @tanker 1975 What do you think the result would be if every legislator and the Governor had to take the HS proficiency exam? I bet the results from an N6 school would be better. Then if we broke it down by gender and race the results would be more interesting. Here is a new cell to put in the matrix... Rs and Ds. I bet the legislature would have at best 10% proficiency...

    Just think the Legislature Improvement plan could read something like this..."By 2012 20% of legislators will be proficient in mathematics."

  12. @sandm- "I'm implying that I hate it when people use a dollar sign for an s. Please don't teach english."

    1) capitalize English. 2) you said (and I quote) "teachers can't spell strong". There is no inference or implying in that sentence. Take an English class.

    "So let me get something straight..I'm private employee and I have to work 8 hours M-F all year minus holidays and 2 weeks vacation. I don't get $40K the day I step out of college. I have to wait 90 days for any medical coverage."

    I didn't get $40k the day I stepped out of college either, and I had to wait for insurance as well. Where do you get your info? The insurance comment just came out of left field.

    "I guess I'm calling my Legislators and DEMANDING for a private school voucher."

    Why? So you can go back to school? Not being snarky, but that's the flow of your rant. There are no connections and everything jumps all over the place.

    Private school vouchers are another argument.

  13. Vouchers are nothing more than Friedman's free market economic theories that do not work.

  14. Dear Fellow Teachers:

    I have been in this forum and quit because of too many bloggers who are ignorant and I felt it was a waste of my time. PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO THEM. THEY REALLY WILL NOT CHANGE THEIR MINDS. THEY ARE WHO THEY ARE AND NOTHING CAN CHANGE THAT. YOU ARE SIMPLY WASTING YOUR TIME. "Birthers" as they are, they will find other ways to put us down. Here's a suggestion:

    Write about the good things happening in your school. Let us show them what we do. Not that it will make them change their minds, but it is a turn toward the positive aspects of what dedicated teachers, students, and parents do of which these people have no clue.

    Thank you.

  15. For Nancy/ASadTeacher: Okay, you are on,here is just one positive story from one in the trenches:
    Yesterday, as a ploy towards fun and learning, and to teach my 3rd graders how to outline, do some scientific observation and notation skills, seasoned with social studies, I paired them with $2 bills, paper, and magnifying glasses. Started them with with a K-W-L, did a mini lesson on outlines, history, money, and government and turned them loose.

    It seems for every fact they jotted down in their outline, they had also generated a question. Time flew by and the bell rang and they were not too happy about setting this aside to pass into their reading groups. But this is an example of how I roll, and I am happy to slum around Las Vegas bank to bank trying to locate and buy $2 bills for my students to use. This lesson goes with the Trophies story all 3rd graders are reading, "How You Make a Million." For math, we played a game I invented called, Casino, where they scramble to make sums of money correctly using various denominations of money. They learn about "greed" in that game as well (a little lesson in character building). There's your 3 Rs! and a wee bit of science! Come join us, why don't you?!

  16. Good lesson approach Ali! They discover learning on their own - that's the best approach!

    By the way, I have a few $2.00 bills. Want them? All for a good cause! Thank you.

  17. Arent they protesting on the clock? Isn't there a 20-30 minute after school bell period where teachers are still on duty?

  18. Mr. Crawford,

    9 out of 10 random assignment studies on the efficacy of vouchers show they do in fact work. Importantly the biggest positive impacts are on low-income minority children.

  19. I just want to take a moment to say, thank you thank you thank you!! to the teachers who do the tireless thankless, job of teaching, mentoring, and caring for our children. As a whole, this community is doing their best to try and stop Sandoval from decimating your ability to do the best job you can do, and I apologize that we have yet to succeeded. But we will continue to do our best and we appreciate that instead of simply walking out the door at 2:41 and going home that you come back to fight these budget cuts, not because it's your job that is being affected, but because you believe in the power of education and the future of our youth. Once again, we recognize your hard work and appreciate all that you do. You are the unsung heros of our community.

  20. Education funding has been steadily increased for a decade and student performance has steadily declined...WHY? Education consumes 55% of the states budget.

    For all of the people who say they would gladly support higher taxes, none that I know have made any donations to the Public Education Foundation to support edcuation. WHY?

    And since the Unions and their members are so strongly in favor of rasing taxes, let's implement a 10% tax on all union dues. I have suggested this and leadership has not run with it....WHY ?

  21. Take Action
    Write your legislators or do one better and write all of them at once!
    Nevada Student Coalition has a page where you can->
    If you're not sure what to say we have ideas listed that will get you started.

    Write your legislators TODAY

    and remember to tell your friends...

  22. way to go, all i can say is that why nevada schools will continue to remain at the bottom of the list of all states in the quality of education given.

  23. Here we are Nevada, in deep financial trouble. Not enough taxes being raised to run our own government. At the same time, our Governor and others refuse to raise taxes to pay for our obligations. So, if we could pay for them before, why can't we pay for them now? Have our leaders granted too many raises to our public employees? If so, how much of a reduction have we made to bring the wages back down to the affordable level? I think we are there and may have already passed that point. Something else is wrong and no one seems to know or admit what the problem is. At some point taxes will have to be raised if we want to have all the services, etc. School teachers do deserve a good salary and the job should be treated as an honorable profession.

  24. First: Thanks Nancy for the $2 Bill offer, I got it covered finally, after driving across town from Nellis to Henderson.

    What has happened to money in our country? I was stunned on how difficult it is to obtain foreign bills and coins for the children to examine and work with in a lesson I was planning (it might never happen). That will be a combined geography, reading, and math lesson. What a week!

    This coming week is Teacher/Educational Staff Appreciation Week. Might I even be so bold to include those who volunteer helping in the PTA, as well?
    Please take time to remember these kind folks. Being "appreciated" is a pretty big deal these days, especially when there's so much negativity in the media. You wouldn't have life without your parents, nor would you have a well-rounded education without schools. They are still important--- that schoolhouse is just an empty building without all the kind folks who are there every day to make it a school. Show some love at them, please.

    Some of the BEST GIFTS parents can give their children are dictionaries, thesauruses, and atlases. They will last a child through their educational years. Teachers along the way will provide instruction how to use them effectively. I encourage this for my 3rd graders, and they rock finding information on their own (a skill that is so very important to learn, especially when parents are still at work, and the child is home alone doing homework). These items can even be purchased at dollar stores, and you can get better ones later when opportunity avails. Many times, students do not have homework done because they LACK the tools at home. Doing this will empower a child.

    Our country is in an economic crisis. Nevada seems to be in one every time the Nevada State Legislature meets!!! Have you noticed, that prices for food, housing, insurance, fuel, well, pretty much everything has gone UP, not down, in the last 25 years? Are we going to blame the teachers for that too?

    Look, Nevada LAWMAKERS have AVOIDED REFORMING THE TAX STRUCTURE OF NEVADA for decades!!!! Are you going to blame teachers for that?

    There isn't a thing on this planet that couldn't be improved and made better/more efficient/or made to cost less. Because we are dealing with the public trust and public monies, it is vital to have transparency on financial records and the numbers be made available. Even Governor Sandoval and Superintendent Jones are having a hard time getting solid numbers to work with---go figure! Someone has something they don't want known, obviously, as they know it would cause extreme outrage. Are you going to blame the teachers, schools, and government workers/agencies for that too?

    Let's keep examining where to safely cut and do it. Let us remember that we have a responsibility to care about others, whether or not we agree. In the Web of Life, we all affect one another.