Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

More info needed before giving raises


January 29, 2020

You can predict it like a Valley shower following a thunderstorm forming over the Jemez Mountains. When there’s a state budget surplus, teacher unions come begging for more money for teacher salaries.

While they’re long on sob stories and promises of better education for students, they’re always short on data that demonstrates any student improvement following past raises.

Recently columnist Sherry Robinson pointed out most New Mexicans are ignorant to what teachers are actually paid. They’re just used to hearing “pay raise!” chanted over and over until it’s a mantra taxpayers believe.

The fact is teachers are paid pretty well in this state. Unless you’re working for Los Alamos National Laboratory or the state, you’re not making that kind of money.

Last year the governor’s “moon shot” promised effective change in education and a move toward meeting the demands of the court-ordered changes in the Yazzie/Martinez case. What the moon shot did was provide teachers with a mandated 6 percent pay raise and left districts with no way to launch the rocket without cutting programs that actually were partially already addressing the demands of the Yazzie case.

Española School District had to cut a few programs, counseling positions, special education slots and its high school truancy officer slot(s) to help pay teachers more money. That’s counter to what late District Judge Sarah Singleton ordered in the Yazzie case.

Before we throw a big handful of cash at teachers again, how about we implement State Sen. Jacob Candelaria’s idea laid out in Senate Bill 96?

Candelaria has the audacity to ask school districts how they spent the surplus given to them last fiscal year. His bill describes a system whereby all the school districts use the same chart of account identifiers (duh!), information systems and personnel classification systems.

Using a standardized reporting system will force districts to plug in numbers where they belong. The state can then evaluate how a district spent its money. It would also force all districts to be evaluated equally, regardless of budget, student population or facilities.

There are two camps when it comes to teacher raises. Everyone wants a raise and everyone believes they deserve it. That can’t be factual. What little teacher evaluating that occurred during the end of Susana Martinez’s governorship showed there are many teachers who not only don’t deserve a raise, they should not be teaching.

While unions fight to get all teachers across-the-board raises, no one is advocating for the children, whose lives are forced into a Sisyphean battle to learn, once they’ve spent one year with a poorly performing teacher.

Candelaria’s SB 96 will go a long way to get school districts reporting how they’re spending their moon shot money. It will also bring into focus how teacher pay is or is not improving education.

Legislators need to know this before they throw more money at our failed education system.

— Rio Grande Sun


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