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It’s not hard to understand why teachers are leaving

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By Sherry Robinson

New Mexico is short of teachers – about 740, according to NMSU’s College of Education. Vacancies are up by 264 from last year. Add in counselors, librarians and nurses, and we’re short 1,173 skilled professionals.

Some 53,455 students are being taught by substitutes.

Understanding why isn’t too hard. It’s pay, job insecurity related to testing, and the lack of respect for teachers, according to NMSU’s survey of teachers and comments from union representatives. Half of 1,900 survey respondents would not recommend a career in education.

These shortages didn’t just sneak up on us. The warnings began in 2012.

During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, when 23.2 percent of teachers left, New Mexico had the nation’s second highest rate of teacher turnover, according to the Learning Policy Institute, a California think tank. Only Arizona was worse, at 23.6 percent.

Remember that in 2012, Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera imposed by administrative order a teacher evaluation so reliant on standardized test scores that teachers found it unfair, punitive and demoralizing. Some kids come to school with issues a teacher can’t fix during the school day, they said. They preferred evaluations based on classroom observations.


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