Las Vegas Sun

November 24, 2015

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Legislature 2013:

Bill to fund Teach For America educators moves forward in Senate


Mona Shield Payne

Eighth-grade teacher Matt Angelo quickly passes out textbooks to his students in preparation for lessons on the Holocaust in English Literature class during Teach For America Week at Dell H. Robison Middle School in Las Vegas Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

The Senate Finance Committee has approved spending $2 million during the next two years to recruit teachers for high-risk schools in Clark County.

Each of the next two years, $1 million will go to the nonprofit Teach For America to supply teachers for a two-year period.

Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, called Senate Bill 517 “a solid investment.” She said she supports programs that reduce dropout rates and send students to graduation.

Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Las Vegas, said she supports the measure but expressed concern that the teachers are committed to just a two-year tenure.

The only opposition came from the Clark County Education Association. Craig Steven testified Tuesday the association supports the program but questions the priorities in spending. He said the money should be spent for professional development statewide for teachers.

The $2 million will be augmented by $4 million in private donations from Southern Nevada foundations, corporations and individuals. The recruited teachers will concentrate on secondary math, science, English and special education.

Joyce Haldeman of the Clark County School District said it will have to recruit 2,000 teachers. She said the school principals are highly in favor of this program.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said Tuesday that questioned how Stevens could oppose the measure when the current school support formula leaves Clark County with little money for schools.

Teach For America representatives said most of its teachers earn their master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UNLV while teaching.

The bill now goes to the floor of the Senate.

The committee also approved Senate Bill 487 to allocate $5 million to continue the Gov. Kenny Guinn Millennium Scholarship Program to help students in higher education.

Committee staff said that the $5 million together with $8 million in settlement funds from tobacco litigation, will keep the fund solvent until 2017.

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