Time to fix our broken education system and invest in our kids.
We must protect our natural resources for future generations.
We’ve known it for years – education is broken in Nevada. We teachers often say we are at the top of every bad list and the bottom of every good list. And yet, nothing seems to change. Every two years, our leaders promise to fix our education system, but as someone who is in the classroom, I can tell you, I don’t see the fixes happening. I have written letters, I have lobbied elected members of the Legislature, and yet, somehow nothing changes. That’s why we need more teachers in the room making decisions.
It is no secret that Nevada’s schools are chronically underfunded. We always hear about more funding; however, for decades we have fought to increase funding for education, and for decades, education is the first to be cut when times get tough. That has to stop if we are to make any progress. It’s that simple. I have seen the devastation wrought on our education system firsthand and I cannot continue to watch from the sidelines.
Nevada ranks at the bottom of the nation for class size. In my own classroom I started the year with 45 students in a single class! Across the state, students are in classes of 40 or more, which means they cannot receive the one-on-one instruction they need and deserve from their teachers. Far too many of our children are being taught by substitutes because the teacher shortage is real and growing. That’s not to mention the shortage of custodians, nurses, bus drivers, and all the other personnel needed to keep a school running.
Enough is enough. Clearly, we need more educators in the room where decisions are made. We cannot continue to accept the status quo. We cannot stand by while another generation of Nevadans is left behind by our broken school system. Our leaders must take their role as stewards of our schools seriously and they must increase their investment in our schools. I will make sure that happens when I am in the room. Let’s start by increasing our per-pupil funding to the national average. Our children deserve better than last place in funding. Next, we need hard caps on class sizes to ensure our children are getting the one-on-one instruction they deserve. We cannot keep passing students along regardless of whether they are prepared for success in life; a Nevada diploma must mean something. Finally, we must ensure that all education personnel – from teachers to bus drivers – are paid a living wage in line with their training and education. We cannot keep losing quality educators to the private sector because we refuse to compensate them adequately.
Whether you have children in Nevada schools or not, this is an issue that effects all of us. A society cannot continue to function without well-educated citizens to keep it running. We need workers, doctors, teachers, and leaders who are ready to take on the challenges of the future and lead our community into a bright future. That all starts in the classroom and it’s time we started recognizing that.
As a history teacher, I know the backbone of the middle class has always been strong unions fighting for the rights of our workers. When I began at Washoe County School district, the first thing I did was join the union and I have been an active participant ever since. I have always been a fierce advocate for unionization and I will continue to push for increased collective bargaining rights in Nevada.
Additionally, I support a living wage for all Nevadans which is tied to inflation. We must be guided by the fact that there is dignity in all work. It is unacceptable that there are people in our state who have to work 2 or 3 jobs just to keep a roof over their heads. The dignity of work must mean just that – that anyone who is willing to work can live a life of dignity in which all of their needs can be met with the paycheck they earn. We have seen marginal pay increases over the last few years, but they have been completely decimated by the ravages of inflation. Every day ordinary Nevadans continue to work harder, for a diminishing paycheck. This is unacceptable.
For too long our state has been the first to suffer from an economic downturn and the last to recover. Each election, we hear candidates talk about diversification of the economy, but it needs to mean something. We cannot continue to rely solely on tourism and mining to keep our economy afloat. At the same time, we cannot diversify on the backs of our workers and our children. We cannot continue to offer sweetheart deals to corporations who rely on lucrative government incentives only to turn around and bring in out of state workers and pay nothing in taxes. We are giving away the resources of our state and receiving nothing in return. We must stop this race to the bottom and instead grow our economy with good paying, union jobs, most especially in green technology and renewable energy fields. We should attract businesses here by creating a stellar workforce and providing a world class education for the children of these business owners. Even better, we should give Nevadans the tools and resources to create their own small businesses and diversify from within.
Housing prices in our community are skyrocketing and ordinary Nevadans are struggling to keep up. Nevadans who have saved up a down payment and have done everything right to purchase their first home are being priced out of the market by corporate investors. These investors, who are often out of state, are outbidding homebuyers in our community by offering cash way over asking price. Then, they turn around and rent out these homes at exorbitant rates. People who want to enter into the housing market simply can’t buy a home and renters are being priced out of their own communities. Average, middle-class Nevadans can no longer afford to buy a home. And Nevadans experiencing poverty cannot even afford basic rent in Washoe County. With these conditions, it is no wonder that homelessness is increasing in our community. This situation is untenable and must stop. We must put limits on investors buying up entire neighborhoods and incentivize the building of affordable housing. We need to level the playing field so that ordinary Nevadans have a fair shot at their dream of owning a home. Additionally, we need to increase housing supply in Nevada. We need to examine our zoning laws to ensure that we are able to pursue all housing options, not just single-family homes. We must support the Home Means Nevada initiative and expand the supply of affordable housing in our community. Finally, we need to expand programs for our houseless population, ranging from housing to mental health care so they are receiving the support they need to get back on their feet.
The cost of daycare in our state is exorbitant and the daycare options are far too limited. For too many families it is cheaper for one partner to stay home to care for the children than it is to send them to preschool or daycare. In many cases, the monthly daycare bill costs more than the monthly housing bill!
We must expand the childcare options in Nevada and we can start by creating universal pre-k across the state. As a teacher I have seen the dramatic impact pre-k can have on the life of a child. Children who have attended quality pre-k programs are given a leg up in life and set up for future success. Conversely, children without access to pre-k instruction too often enter school without prerequisite skills and knowledge and struggle to catch up for the rest of their academic careers. We should also invest in early childhood programs and offer small business supports to quality daycares in our community in order to expand the range of childcare options available.
Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing Nevada right now. We have gotten to the point where our skies are darkened for most of the summer due to wildfires and we are quickly running out of water due to our increasingly smaller snow pack and higher temperatures each year. We cannot continue on this path. But we don’t have to sit by helplessly as we watch climate change wreak havoc on our communities.
First, we must tackle greenhouse gas emissions, the largest of which are vehicle emissions. As a result, we must make a significant shift in our transportation infrastructure by investing in charging infrastructure, expanding rail service (including light rail for commuters), and improving walkability and biking infrastructure across the state.
We must also shift our energy infrastructure to rely entirely on renewable energy and promote the creation of green industries which provide good union jobs. Nevada can and should be at the forefront of green energy in this country – we are a perfect location for solar and geothermal energy and we need to utilize those resources to their fullest extent. We must become leaders in the green revolution.
We should also invest in regenerative agriculture, which represents one of the best means of addressing climate change in our lifetime. Regenerative practices improve soil health, which in turn allows the soil to sequester more carbon out of the atmosphere. In addition to addressing climate change and pollution, these practices also improve the health of our community and environment by eliminating the use of toxic pesticides and encouraging more natural methods of farming.
Finally, Nevada has been blessed with vast wide-open spaces which remain wild and untouched and we must work to keep them that way. Our public lands must be protected for future generations and we must be good stewards of the land. Development of public lands should not be undertaken without careful study of the environmental impacts and consultation with Native groups whose histories with this land must be honored. Further, any use of our public lands should be in the interest of preserving environments, investing in green energy projects, or increasing recreation to allow more Nevadans to experience its natural wonder.
Historically, Nevada has ranked nearly last in access to healthcare, spending on health programs, and doctors and nurses per capita. Too many people in our state cannot afford to see a doctor or get the lifesaving care they need. Even when people have insurance, they can’t get in to see their doctor in a timely manner or find a specialist without going out of state. Mental health statistics are even worse. We must invest in programs which lower the cost of care, increase access to quality, affordable insurance, and incentivize doctors and nurses to enter and stay in the profession here in Nevada. In 2021, the Nevada legislature created a public option for healthcare and this was an important first step in addressing these issues. While this plan will take years to properly implement, we need to ensure it is implemented in the most effective and impactful manner so all Nevadans have access to quality affordable health insurance.
The right to be a woman with freedom over her own body is under attack. Thanks to the actions of a radical far right Supreme Court, the right to medical privacy is no longer a guarantee and millions of women no longer have access to abortion care and other healthcare services. It now falls to state leaders to protect the rights of women in their communities and ensure that they can access the quality reproductive care that they need and deserve. Nevada is a pro-choice state and the right is enshrined in state law. Reproductive healthcare is a basic human right and I intend to protect and strengthen this fundamental right.
There are many candidates running for office this cycle who want to take away the rights of Nevadans and insert the government into private medical decisions. That is unacceptable. We need a leader who will fend off attacks on our personal freedoms and will ensure that every Nevada woman has the right to decide when, if, and how she wants to start a family. Moreover, due to the abortion bans implemented in many states, Nevada is likely to become a safe haven state for abortion care in the coming months and years. That is why I support measures that protect anyone seeking abortion services or other reproductive healthcare from punishment. Further, as thousands of out-of-state patients flood into our state, we must ensure that our current healthcare systems have the capacity to meet the new demand while also meeting the needs of Nevada patients.