Changes to teacher evaluations spark mixed reaction

Gov. Susana Martinez’s recently announced changes to the state’s teacher evaluation system came from discussions between a panel of New Mexico educators and state Public Education Department officials. This is according to Chris Eide, the national director of state policy, advocacy and partnerships with Teach Plus. The Boston-based nonprofit, which focuses on teacher-driven education reform, launched an initiative in New Mexico last year to look at teacher evaluations and teacher preparation. Over the weekend, Martinez accepted two recommendations from the New Mexico Teach Plus task force. One allows teachers to use up to six absences without affecting the attendance portion of their state teacher evaluations.

Bill would give teachers more sick time

A bill that would allow teachers to take up to 10 days of sick leave without it hurting their performance evaluations is headed to the desk of Gov. Susana Martinez for her consideration. The state Senate on Monday unanimously approved House Bill 241, which is subtitled “Teachers are human, too.” It amends the School Personnel Act so that using up to 10 days of personal leave or sick days in a school year would not negatively affect teachers’ performance reviews. “Teachers will do a better job teaching and will not get the students sick if they are healthy when they are in the classroom,” said Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, one of the bill’s sponsors. “We should not punish them for doing their job.”

Sanchez, allies rally in the middle of a tough race

In his race to retain his Senate seat, Michael Sanchez never mentions the name of his opponent. But he does frequently mention his political nemesis over the last six years, Governor Susana Martinez. That’s because Sanchez, the Senate Majority leader from Belen, is the top target of Republicans this year. Advance New Mexico Now, a Republican super PAC with close ties to Martinez, is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to defeat the Democratic Senate leader. “There’s no way that I can raise the amount of money that Advance New Mexico and this governor can raise against me,” Sanchez told NM Political Report.

Sanchez attended labor summit at White House

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez was far away from his home in Valencia County or even the Roundhouse in Santa Fe on Wednesday. The Democrat from Belen took part in the “Summit on Worker Voice” at the White House. The New York Times described the gathering as “an effort to give unions, organizers and some businesses a platform to discuss wages and other issues.”

President Barack Obama spoke at the summit and said that when unions are attacked, the middle class is attacked. He also spoke about income inequality. “America works when we are building a broad-based middle class and there are ladders of opportunity that everybody can reach,” Obama said according to a White House transcript.

AFT president talks New Mexico education [VIDEO]

On Monday a group of teachers and activists gathered outside the Roundhouse to speak out against what they said were problems with New Mexico’s Public Education Department. Among teachers, concerned parents and local union leaders was Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She told New Mexico Political Report that she came to New Mexico to participate in Moral Monday, organized by the New Mexico Federation of Labor. New Mexico Political Report also asked her why AFT filed a lawsuit against the PED and how she sees New Mexico compared to other states, in terms of education.