Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Reason behind teacher shortages

It is no secret that Nevada schools are some of the worst-funded and most overcrowded in the nation. It is also no secret that children in Las Vegas rank near the bottom in every category that measures wellness. Some of the most important factors in student achievement are parents and poverty, but it is difficult to ameliorate those. According to studies from Stanford University, the most important factor we can control is the teacher in the classroom.

The same day we read “Nevada schools are doing poorly,” we also read “Subs to fill numerous teaching spots.”

Ten percent of Clark County School District teachers need to be replaced every year. One-third of those end up being long-term substitutes every year. It is highly unlikely you are finding the best and brightest when you are scrambling to find adult bodies with at least 60 college credits to fill classrooms.

This constant staffing shortage, even during the worst unemployment in Nevada history, puts tremendous stress on the system. The high turnover saps the system of veterans and leaves schools without the leadership and a support structure to encourage new teachers. Teachers are overwhelmed with large class sizes, frequently unwarranted media criticism, constant changes in leadership and computer software, and a transient student population.

What other profession offers raises for the first 12 years of employment and then expects those employees to work for 18 more years without a raise? No cost-of-living raises for going on six years means most veteran teachers are losing money every year.

Las Vegas does not have a teacher shortage because it does not offer $2,000 signing bonuses. It has a teacher shortage because the teaching environment in Las Vegas is toxic.

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