CCSD must honor deal it made with its teachers

After 18 years of teaching, there is still hardly a day when I don’t love stepping into my classroom. Because I spend so much time there, I’ve taken care to decorate it — this year with old records on the wall, an antique typewriter on my desk, and other artifacts reminiscent of my days as a history teacher. I consider myself very lucky; not everyone is so fortunate as to have found their calling and truly love what they do.

I enjoy taking classes as much as teaching them. I never stop trying to perfect my craft, whether that be in lesson planning, creating better assessments or testing out the latest curriculum. This year, I am involved in two fellowships as I work on developing my teacher leadership skills. A good teacher never rests on her laurels, and I want to be a great teacher for my students.

After months of waiting, my colleagues and I were elated when it was announced that the Clark County School District teachers had won arbitration with the district. CCSD would have to honor our contract, pay us our promised step increase, and better fund the Teacher’s Health Trust. I was not surprised, because every time CCSD forced the union into arbitration, we won. I was surprised, however, when the board of trustees decided to take the decision to court, refusing to adhere to the binding arbitration it had demanded.

Teachers should be able to trust the salary schedule the school district advertised. I come to work every day in good faith, keeping up my end of the bargain. My students get the best of me — high-quality lessons, commitment to their success, and a caring attitude they can depend on. The union and the district worked hard to come to an agreement on pay, benefits and modest step increases based on years of service and additional college credits. The district now needs to hold up its end of the bargain.

This year, Nevada students again participated in NAEP testing, an assessment of America’s students in various subjects. Our students did well. In fact, since 2009, Nevada has outperformed the national average in growth for reading and science. Although more needs to be done, this is one example of how our teachers are helping students succeed.

The public understands this and generally supports our efforts. Nationally, teachers have been winning battles for fair salaries and better classroom supplies. In Nevada, we need our legislators to take funding from the marijuana tax and the casino room tax from the general fund, and put it where the voters intended: the education fund.

Teachers not only teach our subjects, we instill integrity and morals into our students. Each year, the fight for our contract slowly erodes the pride I feel in being an educator. That is unfortunate, especially because I love my profession and cannot imagine doing anything else. The Legislature owes it to its teachers, and to our students, to ensure that teachers are paid what they’ve been promised.

Jordana McCudden teaches web design and introduction to multimedia at Canarelli Middle School in Las Vegas. She is a Teach Plus Nevada Teaching Policy Fellow.