Nevada lawsuit seeks more tax money for education, though more money has not improved education

On Monday the Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by nine parents claiming the state Legislature is not meeting its constitutional requirement to adequately fund K-12 public education, according to the morning paper and the online Nevada Independent.

The 37-page lawsuit was filed in March of 2020, as reported here, but dismissed in October by a Carson City district court judge who said “the Court will not substitute its judgment for that of the legislature with respect to the education policy in the state of Nevada.”

The suit, filed by Educate Nevada Now, says Nevada students “inhabit one of the lowest-rated and worst-performing state school systems in the United States,” and asks the courts to find that the level of funding of public education in the state has fallen short of the constitutional requirement to “ensure a basic, uniform, and sufficient education for the schoolchildren of this state.”

There are two problems the Nevada high court justices must grapple with in deciding this case. One: As the suit itself notes, the Nevada constitution states that the Legislature shall appropriate education funds that “the Legislature deems sufficient …” That would seem to dictate that lawmakers are to determine what is “sufficient” rather than the courts. Two: Past spending increases on public education have produced no discernible improvement in the quality of education.

From a 2014 Cato Institute analysis of state by state education spending versus SAT scores.

The Nevada Supreme Court in the case of Guinn v. Legislature in 2003 held that Nevada students have a basic right to a public education under the state constitution, the current suit states. In that case the court decided education funding had to take precedent over a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes.

Justice Bill Maupin was the only dissenting vote in the case, citing separation of powers, “Again, we are powerless to order co-equal branches of government to exercise individual acts of constitutional discretion. Our authority depends upon whether extraordinary relief is warranted and in exercising our authority to grant relief, we would be restricted to an interpretation of the Constitution, utilizing recognized tenets of statutory construction.”

The current lawsuit neglects to point out that the justices three years later overturned Guinn v. Legislature, largely for the very reason cited by Maupin.

The Educate Nevada Now suit further quotes the state constitution, which says, “The legislature shall provide for a uniform system of common schools, by which a school shall be established and maintained in each school district […].” A school? The quote is cut off before the part that says such schools, however many there are in each district, must be open “at least six months in every year …”

The litigation comes despite the fact Nevada lawmakers in 2015 passed the largest tax hike in history, $1.5 billion, largely to fund education, and lawmakers have since approved 3 percent raises for teachers.

The problem with Nevada public education is not so much a lack of funding as it is a deficiency in accountability.

At one time Nevada high school students were required to pass a proficiency exam in order to graduate. That was dropped in 2018.

With the 2015 tax hike came a requirement that third graders who could not read at a certain proficiency level would be held back to repeat the third grade. That has since been dropped.

At one point 50 percent of teacher evaluations were based on pupil achievement growth. That has been cut to 15 percent.

Another problem is that education evaluations are all over the board. According to Teacher-Certification.com, Nevada now ranks 39th in K-12 education funding and neighboring Utah dead last. According to Education Week, Nevada ranks 18th in quality of education and Utah ranks 10th. According to U.S. News & World Report, Nevada ranks 48th in quality of K-12 education and Utah ranks 21st.

But the bottom line is: The constitution seems clear when it says education funding is whatever “the Legislature deems sufficient …”

22 comments on “Nevada lawsuit seeks more tax money for education, though more money has not improved education

  1. Mistrbill says:

    The time has come and passed to start replacing teachers that are so dumb they can’t teach the heads full of mush that has become our children. This is no more surprising than the “PLANDEMIC” we have seen for nearly 2 full years now!. The “DUMBING DOWN” of our students is run by the school boards and has been for over 30 years now!
    Our school district is “top-heavy” and if they can’t find qualified teachers who can teach the basics, because they don’t know what the basics are, themselves.

  2. Athos says:

    “The problem with Nevada public education is not so much a lack of funding as it is a deficiency in accountability….” No one is fired that stays fired no matter how bad our students preform. 26% of juniors read proficiently and 80+% graduate, and no one pays the price (except for the employers that MUST hire these nitwits, and try and teach them how to read)

    We need to return to a Christian based, moral principles-taught society, where people will resign when they fail so miserably. Money is not the answer. Morals, discipline and order are. But if no one pays the price of theft, or murder, or government corruption, but instead flourishes (politicians and generals resign or retire to become big$$ lobbyist or placed on the board of global companies…or heads of CIA and FBI lie to the public and to Congress and get big money jobs from CNN, etc, etc etc) how can we possibly teach our children to do right?

  3. No consequences …

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Defense Budget is going to be more than 800 billion dollars this year.

    I wish you’d write an article about whether this country should spend that kind of money on a military that never seems to do much but fail at whatever their job is.

  5. Maybe they do need more money? Just kidding …

  6. Anonymous says:

    Its good to laugh once in a while

  7. This just in. Las Vegas schools second worst of the largest 50 metropolitan districts: https://metro.fordhaminstitute.org/

  8. Anonymous says:

    This just in, we’ll just in July anyway:


    Nevada ranks last in school finance; state says data lags recent increases”
    BY: CLARA BATES – JULY 19, 2021 12:06 PM

    https://thisisreno.com/2021/07/nevada-ranks-last-in-school-finance-state-says-data-lags-recent-increases/

  9. Rincon says:

    We tend to accept without reservation, studies that support our views, and the CATO Institute is no exception. From the 9/24/19 WSJ: “SAT Scores Fall as More Students Take the Test “ The title says it all.

  10. bc says:

    Hard to know what the truth is when it comes to school funding and performance. I have lived all over the country and seems that every school district was “at the bottom of the country when it comes to school funding”. But we all know how our old friend Sam Clemens thought about the relationship between statistics and lies.

    I looked at the CCSD schedule just now, beginning teacher makes $43k, My daughter just started as a teacher with Albuquerque and she started at $41k so with that small sample size CCSD appears to be competitive.

    You do have to look at the total package, school employees in Nevada do not pay Social Security taxes (nor collect the benefits of course), and looking at the CCSD website it did not appear that they pay towards their retirement, which means that the $43k number is larger than it looks. My daughter may have the same benefits in NM, not sure. But I will say that when I came out of college with my engineering degree 30 years ago I started at $32.5k, so is education keeping up?

    Teachers can be fired, as can most government or represented folks. I spent a bit of time in school facility administration in rural Nevada many years ago. Was at the superintendents home once and there was a board on his wall with 4 or 5 name plates on it. When I asked what that was he said it was his “wall of honor”, teachers he had fired. I have fired union members including government employees as well. There are steps you have to go through and it takes patience but if someone needs to be fired they will likely give you the opportunity. But you have to go through the process and like most employees, they have rights that have to be respected.

  11. […] Bookmark the permalink. On Monday the Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by nine parents claiming the state Legislature is not meeting its constitutional requirement to adequately fund K-12 public education, according to the morning paper and the online Nevada Independent. […]

  12. Athos says:

    Hopefully, we’ll be able to introduce the Ten Commandments to the public schools to give the kids some boundaries. And we much teach reality. Boys cannot be girls and vice versa. It’s genetics, science and basic biology.

    And bc, 5 names doesn’t seem like quite the accomplishment of which to be proud. And just maybe we need less “diversity councilors, and more actual teachers, eh? And we almost never hear about the bad ones getting fired (even after being caught having sex with their students!)

    Kind of reminds me of that SUV that killed all those Christmas paraders.”All of America might mourn with Waukesha” but no news outlet is covering what happened, are they? I wonder why???

  13. Anonymous says:

    Athos, 5 names in a very small rural school district is an accomplishment. This was not CCSD with 200 teachers in one building.

    And in my short time there on of my employees needed to be fired so I fired her. And I did it within the guidelines of the contract we had with the employee’s union. None of my other employees needed to be fired, they worked hard and were good at what they did.

    Diversity counselors? In a school district? Perhaps there are some in HR recruiting that look outside the normal white male/female population for prospective employees, I don’t know but then my kids are all out of school now.

    Easy to empire build in an organization, happens in public employers and private. When money gets tight then there are layoffs and empires are right sized. Been a part of that party in public employment and private and yes that happens in school districts.

    Teachers get fired but like most employees they do have some rights. And in a public position like teaching it is easy to be in the crosshairs of someone in the public that has a score to settle. Just because someone in the public doesn’t want you as a teacher for whatever reason, you have the right to defend yourself and be defended.

    Not sure what your references to that awful tragedy in WI is about, but I can assure you that the local media is all over it and we will hear more nationally as the case progresses.

  14. Athos says:

    Too late, bc. Waukesha tragedy happened a month ago. It’s already been rabbit holed. It just doesn’t fit today’s leftist news narrative.

    How does that work, Tom?

    James Blake vs Darrell Brooks.

    But don’t mind me. Im just pissed that this delusional world wants to tear down Thomas Jefferson Statues and erect George Floyd memorials. Elevating drugged up felons and tearing down the author of the Declaration of Independence.

    Insanity.

    George Orwell TRIED to tell us. I just never believed he was a prognosticator instead of a fiction writer!

  15. Athos says:

    Oh. about CCSD. Our state legislature needs to break it up. Too much power in too big an organization that fails miserably. Restorative justice is a total failure that the powers that be won’t change. Haven’t heard of critical race theory, yet, but we’re always behind the times.

    We need to teach reality. The 1619 project is fakery. Don’t teach the 1619 project.

  16. I have the T-shirt: “Make Orwell fiction again.”

  17. Anonymous says:

    Donald Trump: ‘What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening’

    https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-44959340

  18. Athos says:

    petey, I hate to break it to you, but Donald Trump is not President. Joe Brandon is! (psst. the year is 2021, soon to be 2022!)

  19. Anonymous says:

    This might have to be my daily reminder to you Athos that President Biden is nearly done with his first 335 days in office and has merely another 1,125 left before his first term ends. Although there is talk that because republicans have so obstructed this first term, that he may have to remain in office for something more than his first year to make up for that. He purportedly referenced the last president’s statement as some precedent for this and I’m hoping you can corroborate the legality of that for me.

    So enjoy

  20. Athos says:

    Ah yes, those magical Creepy (what’s with the whispering?) Joe Brandon and his 335 days of “true leadership”…..and he is the great uniter?!?

    How long will it be before an un-vaxed person is murdered by a Vaccine Karin encouraged by Brandon’s speeches?

    SMH

  21. Anonymous says:

    Ashley Babbitt wasn’t afraid of the shot.

  22. Athos says:

    “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10

    We could all use a little of that “great joy”, yes?

    Merry Christmas, all!

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