The multi-trillion-dollar tax plan proposed by Republican leadership in Congress is a $5 trillion giveaway to the super-wealthy and corporations that will blow a hole in public-school budgets, hinder our ability to provide students with a good education, and put educators’ jobs at risk. By eliminating the state and local tax deduction (SALT), the Senate bill would blow a $370 billion hole in state and local revenue over 10 years and put at risk the jobs of nearly 370,000 educators. A state-by-state breakdown of the impact is available on this table. For New Mexico, the tax-plan could deal a devastating blow to school improvement efforts aimed at improving student success for our students. It means a loss of $650,593 over the next ten years in federal support our own taxpayers will have to make up for to avoid these cuts to our already-underfunded schools.
Betty Patterson is the President of the National Education Association–New Mexico Students are at the center of our existence at the National Education Association–New Mexico. Student success is best supported when every student has a high-quality professional education team there for them. House Bill 2 (HB2), the budget bill, as sent by the House to the Senate moves our state in the wrong direction. An amendment to HB2 moves our state in the right direction by proposing to remove $8.5 million to fund the destructive and failed “merit pay” program of the Public Education Department (PED). The amendment converts those funds so they will be spent by districts to pay for a 16 % increase school employees will otherwise pay themselves for health insurance next year.
Betty Patterson is the president of NEA-New Mexico, a union which represents teachers in New Mexico. New Mexico ushers in this holiday season with one of the best gifts students and educators have received in a long time—passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Passed last week in the U.S. House of Representatives, and this week in the U.S. Senate, ESSA is a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind. Educators and students have lived with the unintended consequences of No Child Left Behind for years, ESSA promises to usher in a new and positive era for our nation’s public school students. Responding to citizens throughout our great nation including New Mexicans, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have moved past the era of so-called “education reform” into a new era of school excellence and improvement.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]BETTY PATTERSON is President of the National Education Association, New Mexico, a statewide union for educators.[/box]
Several of the Governor’s highest priorities for this recently completed legislative session were on education issues. We agree emphasizing public education is appropriate. It is the single issue with the greatest impact on New Mexico’s overall future: public education. We wonder why education is given short shrift in coverage of legislative outcomes. Promoters of the wrongly-labeled “right to work” bills distracted legislators from the important work at hand to improve our schools. If passed, it would have increased the impact of poverty on the readiness of many students to learn, and it would have lessened the impact of teachers and other educators when raising our collective voice on education issues. Teachers and other education professionals should be heard. We applaud legislative champions who defeated the “Right to Work” bill, and laud those who made strengthening public schools their top priority in the first session of the 52nd New Mexico State Legislature. If next year’s session is also distracted by such unneeded and harmful legislation, we will rise again. Elections have serious consequences; the loss of a pro-public education majority in the House meant a great deal of effort defeating other very bad ideas such as vouchers and a budget that falls short. The budget has no salary increase for school employees other than new teachers and merit pay for teachers tied to the highly-flawed PED evaluation system. When teachers compete with each other for higher test-score results this hurts students in many ways. These negative impacts are compounded when schools are also “graded” based on standardized tests. Unfortunately, the Merit Pay plan remains in the budget.