Education News

Who’s Chris Giunchigliani, the former special ed teacher running for NV governor?

by Félix Pérez

Can you remember the last time an educator with 20 years experience in the classroom was a viable candidate for state governor? Well, that’s what happening in Nevada, where Chris Giunchigliani, a former middle school special ed teacher, heads into the the state’s June 12 primary.

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But who is Giunchigliani, known by friends as Chris G.? And what are her positions on issues that matter to educators, students and parents?

The following is a compilation of quotes and excerpts from Education Votes, educators, Nevada news media and Chris G herself that we hope help shed light on those questions.

Greatest Classroom Joy

It was “making my students laugh and feel good about themselves.”

Students

I miss “the hugs, saying hello, greeting my students, asking how their night had been, [the] laughter and the excitement that comes with learning something new.”

Respect for Educators

“I have had the honor of serving as a public school teacher, an [state] Assembly representative, and now as Clark County Commissioner. In all of these roles, I have seen firsthand how public education benefits our citizens and our community. It may sound trite to some, but it is still true that teachers transform lives on a daily basis.”

“I taught middle school education for decades. Teachers are underpaid and overworked with layers of bureaucracy, licensing requirements and constant pressure to deliver test scores. Teachers are professionals with four-year degrees—and many of us have masters and doctorates. We should be treated accordingly. We certainly didn’t choose this for the money, but teachers shouldn’t have to be working second jobs to make ends meet.”

Her Future Involves Education

I see myself “volunteering in schools as a mentor, traveling and working with students in other countries.”

Listening to Educator and Community Concerns

“As head of my teachers’ union, I spent four years traveling around the state in my motorhome because I wanted to hear directly from teachers, support personnel, administrators, parents, students and the local community. I visited every school in Nevada at the time except for two. I believe in the importance of listening and taking the time to really understand people’s concerns and get their input.”

The Role of Public Education

“For over 460,000 children in Nevada, public education was and is the great equalizer. Public education bridges the social class gap. It was education that gave a young person like me access to a profession, entrée into the middle class, and a political career.”

Voucher Schemes

Voucher schemes “take public taxpayer dollars to subsidize religious and private education…. [P]rivate schools are not held to the same accountability and performance standards as Nevada’s public and charter schools. They don’t have to hire qualified teachers; they do not have to teach a standard curriculum; and if a private or religious school wants to reject science, they are entitled to do so by law. These schools can turn away kids who are deemed not to ‘fit in,’ and statistics show that these are often children with disabilities, those from different cultures who may not speak English, or simply those who are behind in school.”

Education Funding

“We have some of the most underfunded schools in the country; it’s unacceptable. As governor, I will bring together stakeholders: parents, teachers, administrators and legislators to fully account for the depth of the problem and figure out how to fix our broken funding formula…. [W]e have to address this head on so that every child, regardless of zip code, family income, or ethnicity has the opportunity to get a great public education.”

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