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American Federation of Teachers New Mexico and National Education Association-New Mexico
React to Proposed Executive and Legislative Budgets

Draft Budgets are Unlikely to Curb Crisis-level Vacancies in Staffing and Retention

January 7, 2022

Santa Fe – American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Whitney Holland, American Federation of Teachers New Mexico Executive Vice President Kathy Chavez, National Education Association-NM President Mary Parr-Sanchez, and National Education Association-NM Vice President Bethany Jarrell released the following statement:

“New Mexico’s public education system is in a crisis of historic proportions, and neither the proposed Executive nor Legislative Budgets fully address this reality for our state.

“Vacant classrooms, lack of full-time and adjunct instructors, needs for transportation professionals and other classified K-12 staff, and a spike in early retirements are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg our public schools, colleges, and universities are attempting to overcome daily, and these budget proposals seemingly were drafted divorced from this reality.

“One bright spot in each budget is a continued investment in educator preparation programs, meant to provide a pipeline of educators into the profession, however, New Mexico lawmakers need to ask themselves what kind of profession we are asking aspiring educators to enter.

“Consistently growing workloads, stresses of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, a daily shuffling of educators to provide coverage for vacancies, and near-poverty wages for many of our lowest-paid educators are not enticements for entering our schools and universities. Educators are being crushed by malignant, misguided mandates and Santa Fe bureaucrats simply do not get it.

“New Mexicans should know under these current budgetary proposals, we expect a continued exodus of educators at all levels to neighboring states or out of the profession altogether, a fact noted by New Mexico’s own legislative analysts. We cannot ask full-time educational workers to accept poverty-level wages and simultaneously pretend we do not know the root causes of our shared crisis.

“To be clear, we support Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s proposed budgetary increases to teacher licensure levels, however, both the Governor’s and Legislature’s proposals for compensation for other educators in our public education system are unjust. Additionally, any mandatory extension to the school year, as proposed by the Legislature will exacerbate the vacancy crisis and will not be supported by most parents, staff, or students.

“In a time of unprecedented resources flowing into our State, lawmakers at all levels can and should do better. We no longer can ask New Mexico’s educators to continue to sacrifice the well-being of themselves and their families for the profession they love. By continuing to intentionally make decisions which drive educators out of the profession, they are not only short-changing our educational professionals, but our students and families as well.”

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