NM's $10 million bet on teacher recruitment - Albuquerque Journal

NM’s $10 million bet on teacher recruitment

Six out of 10 students of color in New Mexico will go through their entire schooling without ever having a teacher who looks like them. That’s a problem: Research has repeatedly shown that students, particularly students of color, benefit academically from having a same-race teacher.

The good news is that the state is taking steps to address this student-teacher diversity gap. Recently, the New Mexico Higher Education Department announced $10 million in new investments to recruit teachers into the classroom. According to Higher Education Secretary Kate O’Neill, these funds are intended to recruit teachers from diverse backgrounds, particularly “Hispanic, Native, first-generation, returning (educators), veterans, bilingual and alternative licensure applicants” through scholarships and loan forgiveness.

The bad news, however, is that the state may be putting most of its eggs in the wrong basket. The bulk of this investment is going to the Teacher Preparation Affordability Act, which targets new prospective teachers. A much smaller amount of money is allocated to the Grow Your Own Teachers Act, which focuses on current education assistants. But this is the wrong way to divvy up the pot: The state should be banking more on current education assistants and less on prospective teachers.

Education assistants are the perfect population to recruit from to address teacher diversity and retention concerns. Nationally, paraeducators – like New Mexico’s education assistants – are more likely to be bilingual, born outside the U.S., and nonwhite than current teachers. And they’ve already demonstrated their interest in working in schools. This type of locally focused recruitment strategy isn’t new: Former Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo, whose dismissal was announced last month, led one such program out of New Mexico State University. But the Grow Your Own Act is particularly promising; it could be the incentive that pushes education assistants into lead teacher positions. According to a recent survey of current New Mexico education assistants, the primary barriers to completing licensure positions are time and money. But if each education assistant enrolled in the program uses the full scholarship amount available to them, that’s only enough to prepare 17 new teachers. By way of comparison, last year, New Mexico had 740 teacher vacancies. The state needs to do much more to recruit teachers of color, and this plan isn’t it.

To be clear, most new teachers in New Mexico don’t start as education assistants. It makes sense to invest more in recruiting more traditional candidates. But if New Mexico really wants to foster a diverse population of teachers who stay in jobs, they need to look at people who are already in schools. Underinvesting in recruiting education assistants is a missed opportunity for New Mexico students.

Bellwether Education Partners is a national nonprofit focused on changing education and life outcomes for underserved children.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » NM’s $10 million bet on teacher recruitment


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Micah Thunder uses his upbringing, personal experiences to craft ...
ABQnews Seeker
Musician is opening for True Story ... Musician is opening for True Story House at Echoes Brewery on Dec. 9
2
A homegrown solution for out-of-control health care costs
From the newspaper
It's depressing. Health costs are rising ... It's depressing. Health costs are rising - impacting patients, employers and providers. W ...
3
New Mexico voters show conservation and communities matter
From the newspaper
For candidates with strong conservation values, ... For candidates with strong conservation values, the 2022 midterm election was one for the ages. In N ...
4
Editorial: Egolf's involvement doesn't help restore trust in the ...
Editorials
It sounded a bit suspect from ... It sounded a bit suspect from the outset.    As speaker of the New Mexico House of Re ...
5
Why concerns were sparked over Public Regulation Commission candidates
ABQnews Seeker
Critics say panel lacks representation from ... Critics say panel lacks representation from northwest region of the state
6
Students rally to provide holiday cheer for homeless youth
ABQnews Seeker
Toy drive was largely pulled together ... Toy drive was largely pulled together by the La Cueva High School dance team
7
Las Vegas woman sought in fatal crash investigation
ABQnews Seeker
Driver and two passengers left the ... Driver and two passengers left the scene on foot after the crash, according to the complaint
8
NM, Mexico sign pact on care for Mexican children
ABQnews Seeker
Updated MOU signed by CYFD, Consulate ... Updated MOU signed by CYFD, Consulate of Mexico
9
The state Public Education Department revealed a $4.3 billion ...
ABQnews Seeker
PED's proposed budget is a 9% ... PED's proposed budget is a 9% increase for next year