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Legislature Notebook: Union poll favors local school control

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SANTA FE – A New Mexico teachers union affiliate says its own polling shows a majority of voters prefer local control for school policies and across-the-board raises for teachers.

The National Education Association is highlighting the poll results and rallying teachers today in Santa Fe in opposition to Gov. Susana Martinez’s education initiatives.

The survey of New Mexico registered voters commissioned by the National Education Association last month found that 80 percent of voters support a pay raise for all public school teachers, with 14 percent saying they opposed the across-the-board pay raise.

Martinez has pushed for pay raises only for entry-level teachers and teachers who excel in newly established evaluations. Democrats in the Legislature, however, have called for across-the-board raises of up to 3 percent.

The NEA poll also found 61 percent of voters favored public education policies being set by local school boards, compared with 22 percent of voters who preferred education policy being set by the state education secretary. Ten percent said they had mixed feelings.

The Governor’s Office has pushed to direct most new education spending on programs managed by its Public Education Department and Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera in an effort to improve accountability.

Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell disputed NEA assertions that the poll data undercuts the governor’s initiatives.

“New Mexicans also support dollars going directly into the classroom – to help make sure kids have textbooks, to lift up struggling students, to support teachers, and to help improve student achievement … as opposed to funneling every last dime of education funding into bureaucracies, where it can be used for things like lobbyists and PR staff,” Knell said.

The poll was conducted by Research and Polling Inc. between Jan. 10 and Jan. 15. The survey of 607 registered voters had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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