By Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
September 2, 2014
LAS VEGAS – Too many students, not enough teachers – this is a dilemma the Clark County School District in Southern Nevada is facing as the new school year begins.
The state’s target student to teacher ratio is 18-to-1. But in actuality, there are 20 or more students per teacher in the district.
Joey Lapuz, who has been working for the Clark County School District for ten years says teachers like him need to adjust to the situation.
“When you have a positive attitude and you have passion, and you welcome these kids on your life and you know that you are acting as a second parent, what you always think about is how things will benefit your students everyday,” said Lapuz.
So as not to be overwhelmed, Lapuz says teachers should not look at students in terms of numbers.
“I see them as people,” said Lapuz. “As people, you want to make a difference in their lives, and I believe numbers is not really something that people should worry about, because it does happen. And then somehow, eventually our district, our government will figure out a way to balance it out, but at this point we just need to be flexible and try to be more organized as teachers.”
With about 320,000 students and approximately 35,000 employees, the Clark County School District ranks number five in the list of largest, fastest growing districts in the nation.
Community leader and former White House adviser on Asian-American issues, Rozita Lee says the shortage of teachers in Nevada is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed.
“The community needs to talk to the superintendent, needs to talk to the teachers, and I feel very strongly that people should speak up,” said Lee. “If people don’t speak up and they don’t know that we care, we do care, and I definitely care that education, the level goes up. The level that we are in right now is terrible.”
Lee says the state of Nevada needs to invest more money in education by improving the hiring process of teachers.
“We also have to pay them the right salaries because the salaries are so low,” said Lee. “We are not able to entice teachers to come and teach,”
Concerned parent Catherine Garcia reminds state officials that problems in education should never be swept under the rug, because it directly affects the future generation.
“If there’s a shortage of teachers I’ll be afraid for their education, because they might not get the right training and education for their future,” said Garcia.