Teacher vacancies in New Mexico are increasing, reaching 751 unfilled positions this year compared to 690 in 2022, as highlighted in an annual report by New Mexico State University’s Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation and Policy Center. This represents a nine percent rise from the previous year but is notably lower than the 2021 report, which documented over 1,000 empty teacher positions in the state, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
This comes despite the state Legislature unanimously passing a bill giving all school employees a seven percent raise and boosting minimum salaries for public school teachers.
Despite substantial legislative investments totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, retaining teachers remains a challenge, as discussed in a recent meeting of the Legislative Finance Committee. Education officials plan to request continued or increased funding for teacher preparation programs, emphasizing the importance of equipping teachers with the necessary skills.
Mary Parr-Sánchez, president of the New Mexico branch of the National Education Association, a far-left teachers union, claimed there needs to be a multifaceted solution involving policy changes and higher wages to address the challenges faced by educators. She said that professionals in the classroom still feel the strain, akin to the challenges during and after the pandemic.
The 2023 report indicates noticeable teacher vacancies, particularly in elementary and special education, as well as math and science classes. Additionally, the state is lacking 482 educational assistants, despite a recent law increasing minimum educational assistant salaries to $25,000.
While the report outlines various needs, including counselors, paraprofessionals, speech-language pathologists, and behavior support providers, it also notes a positive trend. More aspiring teachers are completing preparation programs, with 1,158 graduates in 2023, marking an increase of 131 over 2022.
New Mexico’s education system ranks 51st behind all other states and the District of Columbia.