Advocates calling for teacher pay raises have reason to celebrate.
The House of Representatives voted unanimously late Monday night to approve Senate Bill 1, which would increase the minimum pay at each level of the state’s three-tiered teacher licensing system by $10,000. The measure is one strategy aimed at addressing a crisis-level teacher shortage across New Mexico. SB 1 now heads to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who put her support behind the legislation early on. She called it the largest educator pay raise in recent years and announced after the House vote she planned to sign the bill into law. That means starting teachers will see their pay rise to $50,000 from $40,000, while middle-tier teachers will see a jump in the base pay to $60,000 from $50,000.
Some teachers in New Mexico can’t afford a washer or dryer. Others live with their parents to save money. A bill the state Senate unanimously approved Saturday that increases the starting salaries of public school teachers from $40,000 to $50,000 is designed to improve their quality of life and help New Mexico tackle a teacher shortage. “We have 1,000 openings right now; we have a crisis,” said Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces. “This particular bill works to fix the crisis on both ends.
ByRobert Nott and Jessica Pollard, Santa Fe New Mexican |
Joshua Acuña sees his chosen profession — education — as a calling. He says he’s not in it for the economic reward, but the 30-year-old is making less than $20,000 as a full-time educational assistant at Santa Fe Public Schools, even after more than a decade in the field. Acuña went through Santa Fe Public Schools himself and has high hopes of becoming a teacher.
But as he tries to earn his bachelor’s degree in education at New Mexico Highlands University while attempting to sidestep debt, one thing keeps getting in the way. Money — specifically, the lack of it.
Acuña says he is heartened by legislation proposing to raise the salaries of teachers in the state’s three-tier licensure system by $10,000. If passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, starting teachers would earn a minimum of $50,000 annually, with middle-tier teachers moving to $60,000 and the top tier at $70,000.
The Legislative Finance Committee heard about the problems the state is having keeping teachers on the job. The report on the problem was released during an LFC meeting on Monday. Teacher pay was one big reason why teachers are hard to keep on the job, the report said. The solutions to the teacher pay problem show that there may need to be tough choices made, ones that could prove unpopular. From the Albuquerque Journal: The report recommended a statewide stipend of $5,000 to $15,000 in additional annual pay for certain teachers working in high-poverty schools and more funding for a teacher loan repayment program.