Recently, Governor Martinez decided that in order to balance the budget, she would cut the salaries of teachers and state workers. She doesn’t call it a pay cut; she calls it “pension pay swap,” but it’s clearly a pay cut. She stated the budget will send “a clear and strong message: it’s up to state government to tighten its belt, not New Mexico families.” Does she not realize these are the middle class workers of New Mexico? That the loss of salary will hurt a large percentage of New Mexico families?
This is worrisome in a state where under her “leadership” we’ve fallen to the bottom of the nation in education—which is not a reflection on teachers. It’s a reflection of poor decision making by implementing PARCC, which doesn’t actually assist students, but fills the coffers of corporations. How many other corporations have taken the money our school districts could have used to improve their schools, to buy textbooks, to add educational assistants, and numerous other ideas? If we want teachers to stay in the state, we should be increasing teacher salaries, not cutting them.
For example, we’re 2nd in the United States for teacher turnover rate. In my district alone, there are 219 job openings as of this morning—it’s half way through the year! Many of our brightest upcoming educators are either leaving the profession (50% don’t teach past 5 years—a common statistic) or are leaving to teach in other states.
When I worked on my National Boards, I attended an informational meeting. About eight of us were grouped together, and almost all of the other teachers were in their late 20’s. The leader asked us to explain to our group why we wanted to earn the National Boards. Here were some of the most dedicated teachers, wanting to improve their skills, working long hours on an arduous program. 6 out of the 8 said they planned to move out of the state for higher paying jobs and didn’t want to hassle with the new state’s paperwork and possible coursework.
If we cut salaries, we’ll see even more teachers leave the state, which leaves unmanageable classroom sizes for the teachers who stay. It means students are put last, again, and teachers will eventually be blamed for why the ridiculous test scores haven’t improved.
It’s not right, especially when corporations are getting tax breaks so their owners can own an even bigger mansion, can have even more amazing vacation homes, and can send their children to fancy private schools that only have 12 students per class.
Call the governor’s office today at 505-476-2200 and tell her that cutting teacher salaries is not the way a responsible Governor balances the budget.
Who have you called today?