Thursday, March 13, 2014

Major Issue in Nevada Education Funding--Co-Sponsored by UNLV COE and Boyd School of Law

Is School Funding Fair in Nevada?

This is the question that is facing all constituents in the state of Nevada, and the question that legislators, educators, administrators, lawyers, and citizens of Nevada came together to try and answer.

On March 6, the UNLV College of Education co-sponsored an event hosted by the Boyd School of Law to address this issue identified by Dean Daniel Hamilton as the "most important issue in our state." 

The panelists for the program were as follows:

  • David Sciarra, executive director, Education Law Center
  • Teresa Jordan, emerita dean and professor, UNLV College of Education
  • Staci Pratt, legal director, ACLU of Nevada
  • Lucy Flores, assemblywoman, co-chair interim finance committee, Nevada Legislature
  • Sylvia Lazos, Justice Myron Leavitt professor of law, William S. Boyd School of Law

Education Law Centers Executive Director, David Sciarra spoke about their National Report Card which rates Nevada's school financing system the least fair in the country.  He went on to speak on the Nevada's funding formula for education, which he claimed is equitable, but not at all fair. Sciarra encouraged Nevada to rethink their funding formula, and to look at states such as Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New Jersey as examples of funding formulas Nevada may follow. 

Dr.Randy Boone, Associate Dean of Research, spoke on behalf of the UNLV COE, specifically referencing Dean's Metcalf's recent Opinion piece in the Las Vegas Sun which addressed the national study conducted by Education Week titled "Quality Counts" listing Nevada as 51st in the nation,  reporting that Nevada schools rate worst in the nation for likelihood of success based on education. 

COE Alum Ruben Murillo, President of the NevadaState Education Association discussed how the Nevada Plan (created in 1967 by the state legislature) is not fair for Nevada's children, and was followed by Senator Mo Denis, currently chairing the Task Force on K-12 Public Education Funding, which was formed to study and review the Nevada Plan prior to the next legislative session. 

Staci Pratt, Legal Director of the ACLU of Nevada spoke to the legal obligations and basic constitutional right the state of Nevada has to provide education for its citizenry. As stated by COE Alum Ruben Murillo, there has to be a sense of urgency in addressing this issue in Nevada. Over the last three legislative sessions a cut of over $800 million previously provided for education in Nevada, with $500 million of the cut impacting southern Nevada alone, was reiterated as evidence of a need for more attention to the issue among all stakeholders.    

The Las Vegas Sun reports that "If Mo Denis' task force doesn't deliver on a new funding formula, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund are considering litigation to force the issue."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dean Metcalf Writes Article for the Las Vegas Sun

Dean Kim Metcalf of UNLV COE

Recently,  Dr. Kim Metcalf, Dean of the College of Education, wrote an editorial for the  Las Vegas Sun newspaper entitled  "Who is Really the 'Worst' in Education?"  The article was published on February 9th, 2014 in response to the "Quality Counts" national study released by Education Week.  According to this study, Nevada comes in dead last as a quality place to raise a child in the United States.  Dean Metcalf responds with a different perspective on the report. 

In response to the results of this national study, Dean Metalf declares:
"To that final and most fundamental question, my response is twofold and straightforward.
One, the report is a damning indictment of the extent of Nevada’s commitment to its children and of the level of support we provide them to achieve adult success.
Two, and despite the headline of the article, the results of the report present a comparatively and surprisingly positive picture of the quality and impact of public education and educators in the state." ( Las Vegas Sun)
Dean Metcalf goes on to analyze the results of the study and report on what those results really mean.  He determines that, while we may be ranked 51st, that is not a clear representation of all of the data reported.  Nevada ranks above average in the school production of student achievement growth, on establishing standards for assessing accountability and quality of teaching, for having processes for allocating incentives for educator effectiveness, and we rank highly in the equality of educational funding.  
Unfortunately, Dean Metcalf uncovers a disturbing problem about that last point:
"Among our highest ratings, Nevada is sixth in terms of equality of educational funding. Unfortunately, this high ranking indicates that per pupil funding ($8,454) in Nevada is distributed in ways that are virtually unrelated to students’ educational needs or community characteristics...We don’t invest very much in educating our children, and what we do invest is spent with no distinction among students, schools or communities of greater or lesser need."  ( Las Vegas Sun)
Dean Metcalf summarizes his findings by concluding:
"We are among the very worst performing states in addressing nonschool factors that are highly related to student achievement and adult success, and we provide little support to schools and to educators compared with most states. In contrast, we have comparatively highly ranked accountability and incentive measures in place for our schools and teachers, and the student achievement growth that our schools produce is in the top 10... we may actually be getting a surprisingly high (though far less than “top level”) rate of return given the size of our investment."  ( Las Vegas Sun)

Friday, January 31, 2014

COE Alumni Association Chapter Welcomes New President and Officers

COE AAC President Dr. Gutierrez
Antonio Gutierrez, Ph.D., was recently elected as the UNLV College of Ed.'s Alumni Association Chapter President. 

Dr. Gutierrez is a Rebel to the core, receiving all three of his degrees from UNLV. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Sociology in 2004, his Master of Science degree in Educational Psychology in 2008, and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Psychology in 2012. Dr. Gutierrez has a firm belief in a transparent decisions-making process.  He knows the importance of being open with those he serves.  His agenda includes furthering the goals and mission of the COE Alumni Association Chapter by increasing outreach efforts, improving communication with COE alumni, increasing COE alumni membership and participation in events.  Dr. Gutierrez understands that in order to accomplish the goals he and his team have set for themselves, the importance and value of collaboration, consensus, and teamwork will become key players in decision making for the COE alumni. 

Dr. Gutierrez is open to the suggestions and opinions of all alumni in making the UNLV College of Education a top-notch college for the future of the university, as well as the alumni who belong to it.  Thus, if you would like to suggest possible events or activities, please feel free to contact Antonio at or 702-895-3556. 

In addition to the appointment of Dr. Gutierrez as President, the newly elected incoming COE Alumni Association Chapter Officers are:

President-Elect: Kenneth Browder
Vice President: Steve Barnson
Treasurer: Katie Dockweiler
Secretary: Olivia Grant

The COE Alumni Board has tentatively planned for these events in the spring:

(1) Resources and Supplies Drive for CCSD Teachers
(2) A COE Alumni Mixer (open to all COE Alumni)
(3) A Membership Rush to educate members about membership dues and benefits

The specifics of these events (e.g., date, time, and venue) will be available on the COE Facebook page.