In advance to the New Mexico legislature’s special session, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly, American Federation of Teachers New Mexico Executive Vice President Kathy Chavez, and Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein released the following statements:
“I am so honored to be in Santa Fe standing shoulder to shoulder with New Mexico’s educators and legislators who are making educational funding for our students- Pre-K through college a priority. Make no mistake; we are experiencing a punch in the gut to our students as the constant undermining of public schools and other actions by Governor Susana Martinez and Secretary Hanna Skandera mirror the cruel and callous cuts we are seeing on a national level under President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Under the DeVos/Trump proposed federal budget, New Mexico would see millions slashed from essential programs. Martinez and Skandera need help us fight those cuts; I ask them tonight to look in the mirror and take responsibility for failing to meet their obligation to public education and New Mexico’s children,” Weingarten said.
“Today’s legislative session underscores the need for new leadership in Santa Fe. Governor Martinez and Secretary Skandera have failed to prioritize public education in New Mexico, plain and simple. We have only been able to protect our schools, centers, and institutions through a partnership with allies in the House and Senate. We are encouraged to hear so many in the Roundhouse demand no additional cuts to public education, but unfortunately, we have yet to hear that message from the Fourth Floor,” Ly said.
“Educational assistants – along with other classified educational employees – are often an afterthought for the Governor, and are some of the lowest paid workers in our public school system. Additional cuts to New Mexico’s public schools will disproportionately impact classified workers, and without us, our students will suffer. We always put our students first, each and every day, but by recklessly holding our budget hostage, Governor Martinez jeopardizes the success of our students. We know our legislative allies will do the right thing for our students and refuse any more cuts to New Mexico’s public education,” Chavez said.
“We are not asking for money for books and raises for New Mexico’s hard working educators—we are here to ask for no more cuts. Educators are struggling to provide for their families, and additional cuts would mean furloughs for teachers and staff, further increases in class sizes, layoffs of essential personnel and the further demoralization of the staff who are actually accountable for educating students. We are asking the Governor to stop deflecting blame, and embrace her accountability for the state of education in New Mexico,” Bernstein said.