Vote Nevada Supporters,
Here are some meetings and events you might want to attend:
Hosted by the Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Nevada Forum working groups will start meeting next week. If you are interested in participating, you can learn more here: https://www.vegaschamber.com/southern-nevada-forum/ Each working group will have at least one bill draft request for the 2023 legislative session. This is a great opportunity to get to know key legislators.
On March 22nd, from 2-4 pm, the Advisory Committee on Participatory Democracy is hosting a virtual meeting that will stream through the Secretary of State’s Facebook page. The meeting will feature Mr. Mark Wlaschin, Deputy Secretary of State for Elections.
Mark will explain how the election laws passed in the 2021 legislative session will be implemented in our upcoming primary election. Because the meeting will stream through the SOS Facebook page, the public can watch and ask questions during the event, and then the event recording will stay on the SOS Facebook page for future reference.
This will give us a resource for valid and accurate information that we can use to counter false information about our election processes.
Here is the agenda, which includes the information for watching and participating in the meeting: https://vote-nevada.news/ACPD-March-22
On March 26th, from 9-10:30 am, via Zoom, we are celebrating Western Shoshone Mary and Carrie Dann, the Dann sisters. At the March Board of Regents meeting, Mary and Carrie were posthumously awarded honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degrees.
We will discuss their fierce defense of indigenous land and treaty rights, and I am sure you will quickly see differences between the Dann sisters’ struggle with the federal government and the more recent Bundy family conflict.
Please join us for a celebration of these two women who epitomize what it means to be a Nevadan by RSVPing here: https://vote-nevada.news/Dann-Sisters
March 28th, 11:30 am, via Teams, Moving Beyond Diversity to Inclusion in the Workplace RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/CSNInclusion
April 1st, from 10 to 11 am, via Zoom, Go from Advocate to Activist in Just 60 Minutes, which is the last event for the CSN Women’s Empowerment Month. RSVP here: t.ly/eOnu
The commentary below is related to the current discussion about school violence:
The dialogue on school violence includes not only what is happening now, but also examinations of how we ended up with this crisis.
I would like to contribute some information to this debate.
In 2018, in response to the Parkland, Florida, school shooting Governor Sandoval created a task force to examine school safety, broadly. This task force included Nevadans from across many different fields and backgrounds and spent considerable time hosting hearings and engaging in research that was memorialized in the task force’s final report.
The thirty-page document is a thoughtful examination of historic funding deficits and short-circuited strategic planning, but most importantly, it lays out the severe lack of wraparound services available in schools.
The report documents missing public health services in many parts of our state, and so addresses the idea usually floated to justify not offering services through schools; it shows that families often cannot access mental health providers in the community.
You can read an op-ed I co-authored on this topic here: https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/we-need-action-on-equity-in-nevada-education
To ameliorate this problem, task force members recommended funding mental and behavioral health professionals in schools at national professional to student ratios.
You can read the task force materials here: https://doe.nv.gov/Boards_Commissions_Councils/StatewideSchoolSafetyTaskForce/Statewide_School_Safety_Task_Force/
You can review the task force’s final report with recommendations here: https://vote-nevada.news/School-Safety-Report
The task force’s final report recommendations became Senate Bill 89 in the 2019 legislative session and received thorough vetting. In that session, SB89’s school safety programs received $53.8 million in funding, but even that generous allocation was insufficient to implement all the SB89 recommendations.
Recently, the Nevada Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report on The Impact of Remote Learning on Education Equity and noted that SB89’s recommendations for staffing schools with behavioral and mental health professionals still have not been addressed.
And that this continuing deficit of wraparound services is making pandemic conditions in schools much worse.
You can read the Advisory Committee’s report here: https://vote-nevada.news/Remote-Learning-Ed-Equity
In a follow-up hearing on January 28, 2022, the Advisory Committee heard a presentation from the Nevada Department of Education. That presentation quantified the current deficit of school-based mental and behavioral health professionals state-wide and the cost to fill that deficit at the national ratios. You can see the NDE presentation here: https://vote-nevada.news/NDE-Follow-Up-Report
The funding need is $234,115,208. That is our behavioral and mental health services deficit in our schools right now. The strain on teachers and support staff who are expected to provide mental and behavioral health services without adequate training or compensation must be unbearable.
In a February Interim hearing of the Subcommittee to Advise on the Expenditure of Federal COVID-19 Funding our school district superintendents reported on their individual district’s spending of ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds.
Despite knowing that these are one-time funds, many superintendents reported hiring behavioral and mental health professionals. Each included a plea to find ways to sustain these hires in the next biennial budget. You can watch the hearing here: https://vote-nevada.news/Interim-Hearing-Sustainability
In his recent State of the Union speech, President Biden committed to addressing the growing mental health crisis among children. The White House released a supplemental document laying out the administration’s 2023 budget priorities in this area.
The document addresses the dilemma our superintendents face as they use one-time federal dollars to hire sorely needed mental health professionals by proposing to continue funding these hires in the president’s 2023 budget.
The document also recognizes our severe shortages of mental and behavioral health providers and the need to support higher education in addressing this important workforce development challenge.
The document includes proposals for covering tuition for students who go into high-need behavioral and mental health fields and agree to stay in the state to provide services in high-need areas. You can read this White House document here: https://vote-nevada.news/National-Unity-Mental-Health-Plan
When looking at our state budget for possible streams of revenue to fully fund SB89, the Vote Nevada Behavioral and Mental Health Committee has consistently argued that we waste hundreds of millions of dollars incarcerating the mentally ill, with often tragic results.
Mental and behavioral health early interventions and preventative care for children can put every child on a path of well-being and productive life, which should gradually reduce the need to warehouse our mentally ill in our jails and prisons.
You can read more about a new dashboard to review the status of our prisons here: https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/state-hopes-new-dashboard-gives-clearer-picture-of-prison-trends-results-of-reform
In sum, we figured out why our schools are not safe in 2018. We have the research and recommendations available now, so, the next step should be speaking to our members of Congress, the Governor, and our legislators to ask them to commit to implementing the available recommendations.
Thank you for being Nevadans with me,
Vote Nevada: Solving Problems with Civics
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