Governor’s programs to bolster teacher pool
An innovative new program to recruit substitute teachers for New Mexico public schools has recently received a lot of national attention, as it should. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Teacher and Family Support Initiative uses volunteers from the National Guard and state agencies to keep our schools open for the in-person learning our educators, children and families need to s flourish.
We are deeply indebted to these National Guard members, state employees, and community members who stepped up to help support our educators and students during this difficult time. But we also know that these surrogates cannot replace the expertise and training of New Mexico educators, and our state needs more of these dedicated professionals.
Many people want to answer the call to teach, but society has not made it easy for them. College students often have to weigh tens of thousands of dollars in student loans against the potential rewards. For too long, this ladder has not tipped in favor of careers in education, ultimately contributing to a national teacher workforce crisis.
In New Mexico, although we succeeded in reducing teacher vacancies by almost 25% in 2019 by increasing salaries, eliminating a hated standardized test and instituting a new system for evaluating educators, the number teacher vacancies almost doubled between the 2020-2021 school year and this school. year. We must use all the tools in our toolbox to help more teachers enter and stay in this essential profession.
But there is good news. Under the leadership of Governor Lujan Grisham, New Mexico’s three education agencies are working together to strengthen our teacher pipeline, support our valued educators, and address the pressing need to recruit more qualified teachers.
Raising educator salaries is an important step in ensuring that teachers feel valued for their expertise, hard work and the essential role they play in the lives of our children.
The Governor’s proposed 7% wage increase for all K-12 public school educators is a big step in the right direction, as is his proposal to raise minimum wages by $10,000 for the three levels of education at $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000. These measures will make our state competitive with our neighboring states, attracting more of the profession and attracting more to our state.
We are also opening up new avenues for becoming a teacher in New Mexico. At the state level, our plan is to provide additional support for the teacher scholarship program and teacher residences. The Educator Scholarship Program provides resources to districts and state charter schools to help recruit and retain teaching assistants and put them into the pipeline to become full-fledged teachers. Teacher residences help pay college education majors to gain experience working in needy districts.
The New Mexico Department of Higher Education works alongside other state education agencies to support current and future teachers at all levels and to recruit and retain teachers from multilingual and multicultural backgrounds. We are investing $10 million in fiscal year 2023 in the Affordability for Teacher Preparation Scholarship and Teacher Loan Repayment programs, which have helped nearly 3,000 New Mexico teachers in course of the past year.
Governor Lujan Grisham’s plan to make free college a reality for all New Mexicans will also go a long way to ensuring that New Mexicans can choose to pursue an education without having to worry about having their tuition reimbursed. debts as they begin their careers. This will go a long way to ensuring that qualified and motivated educators can continue to work and live in their communities.
The Department of Early Childhood Education and Care pays 100% of tuition and books and provides mentorship to early childhood professionals seeking advanced degrees and certifications at universities across the state, creating a pipeline to place highly qualified teachers in the classrooms with our youngest learners. The ECECD also works to ensure that early childhood professionals reflect New Mexico’s diversity, investing in the recruitment of bilingual and Indigenous educators and providing incentive awards for child care professionals. children who obtain bilingual certifications.
The children of New Mexico deserve the best education we can give them, and educators deserve every opportunity to do so. These strategic and collaborative investments will put us on the path to making both of these things possible. We urge the state legislature to support these proposals.