Tag Archives: Nevada Education funding

Friday Didjah Know?

Didja Hear Maybe “I Regret” wasn’t enough?MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren announced on Monday that, despite being a lifelong Republican, he is backing Democrat Hillary Clinton for president. Murren has never publicly endorsed a candidate before but said that he felt he needed to lend his voice to “some of the bigger issues” this election cycle after an “accumulation of vitriol” from Trump.” Full article at the Las Vegas Sun.

Those Naked Truth Statues are products of a Las Vegas artist.  Well done sir! And, a hand clap to the now famous line from the NYC Parks Department: “NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small,” parks spokesman Sam Biederman joked.”

The Nevada Board of Examiners has approved another $125,000 to an outside law firm (Bancroft Associates – Paul Clement) to defend the public school fund gutting voucher education program. The firm has already gotten $420,000 from Nevada and the recent increase will mean a $545,000 total payout. [LVSun]  This would be the same Paul Clement whose firm has been tapped by North Carolina Republican leadership to appeal the NC Voter ID law targeting African Americans.

Former solicitor general during the Bush administration, and current professor at Georgetown Law School, Clement has spent much of the Obama administration working with conservatives on several prominent Supreme Court cases, including arguing in favor of overturning the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), fighting to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and helping Arizona defend its controversial immigration law. Clement won the Hobby Lobby case at the Supreme Court for religious conservatives. [TNCRM]

The Smoking Gun Memo from North Carolina Republicans isn’t going to make Clement’s task any easier.

Yes, Donald Trump is now running adsa new Dog Whistle to the Far Right. Did we expect anything else?  Thus much for the pivot, unless by “pivot” means a 360 degree turn. By the way, the ad offers up an Old Hoary GOP line about undocumented immigrants soaking up Social Security Benefits – they don’t. This talking point has been floating around since at least the 2006 mid term elections.  Ten years of the same lie is enough! [factcheck]

An Hispanic couple’s truck was vandalized in northwest Reno (can you guess what happened?) “A Hispanic couple’s truck was vandalized Wednesday night in Northwest Reno with graffiti including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s name, in what one of the victims said was a hate crime.”

“Esmeralda Estrada, 31, of Reno, said the truck, which is only about two months old, was fine when she and her husband went to sleep around 10 p.m. Wednesday. When they woke up Thursday, it was keyed several times, including the word “Trump” scratched into the side. The tailgate was also spray-painted with “VOTE TRUMP.” [RGJ]

The Estrada’s are the only Hispanic couple in the neighborhood.

Trump and Entourage arrived in Baton Rouge, LA and was met by GOP office holders. They met with volunteers at a church which had been cooking meals for displaced persons.  [AP] The GOP has slammed the President for not appearing, however “Louisiana’s Democratic governor defended the administration’s response Thursday, saying he has spoken daily with the White House and would prefer Obama hold off on visiting because such stops pull local police and first responders into providing security.” [AP]  Nothing like barging in?

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Filed under education, Edwards, nevada education, Nevada politics, Politics, presidential race, racism, Republicans, Vote Suppression

Nickels and Dimes and PPEs

Nickels DimesThere are numbers, and then there are numbers, some of which are of marginal utility.  For example, there’s the much used and abused “per pupil expenditure.”  Nevada’s isn’t a particularly appealing number:

“Nationally, average per-pupil spending was $10,658 during fiscal year 2011. Expenditures ranged from $6,326 in Utah to $20,793 in Washington, D.C.  Nevada spent an average of $8,411 per student in that time frame, $2,247 less than the national average.”  [LVSun]

Generally speaking, the PPE number gets bandied about as though it’s “too high” when it’s above the national median, or “too low” when it’s below.  The point should be that the local situation will determine the financial needs of school districts, and the local financial needs will drive the allocation of the funding available.

About the worst application of the PPE number is to plant it next to a table of numbers showing testing results for K-12 youngsters and then grandly announcing we’re “spending too much,” or “too little” or often from conservative quarters — “we’re not getting enough from our money.”  Here’s why this argument is counter-productive:

1. PPE numbers may incorporate funding which does not directly affect instruction.  Granting that better instruction, and better learning take place in well lit, comfortable, well furnished surroundings,  a district which has major maintenance and construction needs may have “instructional costs” elevated by the expenses associated with upgrading ventilation, heating, cooling, and furnishing projects.   We could further confuse the issues by incorporating extended ARRA funding included in 2010-11 school district budgets and thereby increase the numerator in our fractional result.  About the best we can estimate is reported in the Nevada Education Data Book (pdf 2013)  that on a statewide basis of the $8321 per pupil expended, $4,944 is categorized as instructional expense, $400 is for “support,” $886 is spent for operations, and $734 is spent for administration.

2. The PPE numbers do not illustrate the demographic elements which inform school district spending.   The Data Book (pdf) shows 437,149 children enrolled in Nevada schools.   327,770 are enrolled in Clark County Schools, another 66,137 in Washoe County Schools, and the remainder 51,830 in the rural counties.   We need to scroll further into the report to discover that Clark County’s enrollment includes about 44% Hispanic students, and 13% African American.  By contrast, Storey County records 10% Hispanic and 1% African American students.

No leap is required to conclude Nevada, and Clark County specifically, has a higher number of “limited English proficient enrollment.” (19%)  And, 50% of Nevada enrollees are eligible for free or reduced price school lunches.  Clearly, not all Hispanic youngsters are burdened with limited proficiency in English, and not all African American or Hispanic youngsters come from families functioning at or near the poverty line.  However, it would be the height of naivety to deny that higher percentages of ethnic minority students means that the allocation of resources necessary for a district with an 85% white population will be the same as one which has a 44% Hispanic population.

In short, the PPE only tells us what has been spent in general terms, and doesn’t tell us a thing about what needs to be spent.

3. Money will not solve educational issues — but it will purchase the resources necessary to meet them.   What we need to decide is what we want the educational system to do.   The answer thereof is “Curriculum, Curriculum, Curriculum.  There appear to be more “stressors” than solutions.

(a) College Prep v. Vocational:  It doesn’t require too many joint meetings between collegiate and secondary instructors to figure out that what the collegiate ranks would dearly love is to have every youngster they enroll competent to pass Calculus 101, U.S. History 101, and English 101-102.  It requires about the same amount of meetings to discover that the secondary instructors are talking about the youngsters who are not among the 120,000 students enrolled in any of the 21 degree granting institutions in the state. [Census pdf]  Let’s use math as a quick example of the stressor: A standard diploma from a Nevada high school requires 3 units of mathematics. What math?  Algebra I, II, and Geometry?  Pre-Algebra, Algebra, General Business Math?   Someone is going to be dissatisfied with any decision.

(b) What constitutes “success?”  Is it getting a “300” on the Reading, Science, and Mathematics exit examination, or a “7” on the writing exam? Don’t get me wrong — I’m all for youngsters being able to identify “tone” in a written piece, and I’m certainly emphatic about young people being taught to recognize propaganda when they read it.  Recognizing dramatic irony is fine, too.  However, what happens if, as an employer, I am primarily interested in hiring a young person who can follow written directions?  Who understand what is required and can fill out an accident report?  Or, who can comprehend what I mean when I say on an application form that the job I am offering requires “particular attention to personal hygiene?”   On the other hand, reading and comprehending a piece of 500 to 1200 words shouldn’t be too much to ask.   The question now evolves into Who is getting What for their tax dollars?

4. The next question is related to both the “success” questions and the demographic issues.  What does the PPE tell us about the connection between the student and the instruction?  Very Little.   A school system with a high number of limited English proficiency students which allocates its best resources toward the development of college prep coursework is probably going to have all manner of graduation rate problems or testing ‘failures.’  If the course-work itself doesn’t meet the needs of the student population it’s hard to imagine any other result.   A school system which allocates scarce resources into remedial coursework will undoubtedly leave some otherwise talented students behind their cohorts in a collegiate setting.

There are some tough questions to be asked and answered, philosophically and practically, and using simplistic references to an equation in which money = quality isn’t helpful.   There are two questions which should be asked: If we say that education is the best gift we can bestow on our children, then how much are we willing to pay for it? Secondly, how do we properly allocate and evaluate the expenditures?

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Filed under education, nevada education, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics

Sequester This: The Impact in Nevada, Cut Women And Children First

Deficits Don't MatterYesterday’s post was theoretical — that which decreases aggregate demand will reduce our national Gross Domestic Product.  Today the White House has released what the impact of the sequestration would be specifically in Nevada, and it’s not pretty.

Education

Nevada’s not been known for its generosity with its K-12 education funding. The information obtained from the 2010 Census shows Nevada spending approximately $8,422 per student, while the national average stands at $10,499.  [Census pdf] [LVSun 2011]  Sequestration makes this situation worse.

“Nevada will lose approximately $9 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 120 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 14,000  fewer students would be served and approximately 10 fewer schools would receive funding.”  [Nevada pdf] (emphasis added)

In the real world, the average teacher aide in Clark County salary is reported as $20,378.  [salary.com] Average teacher pay is reported as approximately $51,777  annually. [RGJ factchecker]  Of the $9 billion lost to state and local funding for K-12 education in Nevada, if we lose 120 teachers and aides the loss to local economies could range from $2,520,000 (if all the losses were aides) to $6,240,000 (if all the losses were teachers at state average pay.)  If we arbitrarily take the half way point, (half losses of aide jobs plus half losses in teacher jobs) then Nevada stands to lose about $4,380,000 in consumer spending as a result of the sequestration cuts.  Less spent for housing, groceries, clothing, utilities, medical needs, transportation, etc.  What this state doesn’t need as it struggles out of the Housing Bubble/Wall Street Wizard Mess Recession is a significant decrease in disposable income for consumer spending.   And we haven’t even gotten to the part wherein 10 schools would face cuts, and 14,000 fewer students would be provided with federally supported services.  It gets worse:

“In addition, Nevada will lose approximately $3.8 million in funds for about 50 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.” [Nevada pdf]

Those would be Special Education funds. There’s no way to say it other than to observe that special education services are labor intensive.  The services are labor intensive by definition, by the terms of Individualized Educational Plans, by the needs of children who are physically or mentally incapable of performing some tasks without personal assistance.  This, perhaps more than any other example, illustrates the problems with across the board cuts without analyzing priorities.  How is it preferable to cut services for the most vulnerable children among us in order to preserve subsidies for oil and energy companies?

“Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 300 children in Nevada, reducing access to critical early education.”  [Nevada pdf]

This would be sorry enough were it not for the following unfortunate fact: “13% of Nevada’s eligible children are currently being served, leaving about 87% in need of services.”  [NHStart] That’s right, 13% of Nevada children who are eligible for Head Start  are NOW served — that’s an under-service rate of 87% and the sequestration would cut the number of children served even further.   How could the Obama Administration “over hype” the significance of additional cuts to a program that’s already struggling in Nevada.  To this, the Republicans say that “there will be no more revenue,” i.e. “We will not cut loopholes for corporate jets, corporate subsidies, yachts, and accounting tricks for overseas operations?”

Health

“In Nevada around 1,150 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $78,000.” [Nevada pdf]

Here we go again.  We’re already in a hole and the sequestration would simple exacerbate the situation, things had been improving:

The Nevada Health Division says Nevada ranked 40th in the nation last year for vaccine coverage in children between the ages of 19 months to 35 months. That’s up from 51st in 2010.” [KTNV]  So, in 2011 we’d moved up from 51st in the states and territories ranked in terms of childhood vaccinations to 40th, and in 2013 we can expect to revert to lower climes?  However, it’s not just kids:

Nevada will lose approximately $258,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Nevada will lose about $690,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 500 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Nevada State Department of Health/Human Services will lose about $123,000 resulting in around 3,100 fewer HIV tests. [Nevada pdf]

What could possibly go wrong?  Hepatitis C infections? Lower substance abuse treatment levels? Fewer HIV tests?

Women

“Nevada could lose up to $57,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 200 fewer victims being served.” [Nevada pdf]

It’s ridiculous enough that the House Republicans have a substitute bill for VAWA which denigrates tribal courts and refuses services to gay and lesbian couples, and ignores abuses perpetrated on immigrant women, but to cut funding for services and shelters to abused spouses and children is beyond the pale.

A complete list of sequestration effects in Nevada can be found here, as a pdf document.

So, Why Are We Doing This?

Is it because the terrible horrible deficit demonstrates a nation at risk of bankruptcy? Is it because our “out of control” spending is taking an increasing portion of our GDP?   The truth of the matter in one chart:

Deficit Share GCP

To see the President’s proposal, including his last offer to House Speaker John Boehner, click here

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Filed under Appropriations, conservatism, Economy, nevada education, nevada health, Politics, Women's Issues