Supply and demand dictates higher teacher salaries - Albuquerque Journal

Supply and demand dictates higher teacher salaries

Public Education Secretary-designate Kurt Steinhaus

Teachers change lives. We make their jobs easier by ensuring students have high-quality learning materials and by crafting strong curricula, but never underestimate the power of one compassionate educator to help a child get on course, stay on course or even change course when needed.

Most successful adults remember at least one extraordinary teacher who inspired them to achieve academically, socially or emotionally. Our children – the future of New Mexico – need and deserve teachers like that. Teachers are a critical component of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s education moonshot – a promise to build the nation’s best cradle-to-college or -career education system. We need highly qualified educators in every classroom to get there.

But, instead of adding teachers to our workforce, New Mexico is losing them. Our chronic shortage of teachers nearly doubled last year to 1,000 vacancies, according to researchers at New Mexico State University’s Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center. Teacher preparation programs nationally report lower admission and graduation rates. In New Mexico, 979 students completed an educator preparation program during the 2020-21 academic year, a decrease of 51 program completions compared to the year before.

I’m no economist, but I do remember the simple law of supply and demand, which says the price for a good or service rises as demand rises. In other words: To stay competitive, New Mexico must pay more to recruit and keep teachers in the classroom.

That’s the simple formula guiding Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s proposal to raise educator pay 7% across the board in fiscal 2023. If approved by the Legislature, these raises will significantly boost our competitiveness, and put us on par with Colorado and Texas, which have the highest average teacher salaries in the region.

Additionally, the governor wants to raise minimum salaries in our three-tiered system to $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000. Together with the raises, this would bring to $64,006 the average teacher salary in New Mexico.

Teachers deserve higher pay because of the life-changing, difficult work they do, because of the educational level required to be a teacher, and because their efforts secure for all of us an educated and more successful workforce in the future. All those reasons are valid. But let’s stick to the law of supply and demand: If we make teaching jobs more desirable through higher pay, more college students will choose to major in education and become educators, and more veteran educators will choose to remain in the classroom instead of leaving for more lucrative careers – which we’re currently seeing around the country on a large scale.

In 2019, this administration secured 6% raises for all New Mexico educators and dramatically increased the base educator salary level in the state’s three-tier licensure system. Despite a state budget crisis, we managed to give educators 2% raises in 2020.

But New Mexico still has a long way to go if we’re going to be competitive with our neighbors. Clearly, we must do more to signal that teaching is a vital and valued profession. It’s time to raise New Mexico educator salaries to meet the competition.

Kurt Steinhaus is a career educator in New Mexico.


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

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
To fix NM child welfare: listen to the gut, ...
From the newspaper
It's easy to fix a failing ... It's easy to fix a failing child welfare system like the one in New Mexico: just listen to you ...
2
Editorial: Warming station a way station to a better ...
Editorials
Something divine is going on in ... Something divine is going on in Albuquerque's International District.
3
NM must open pathways to graduation
From the newspaper
I was an unmarried teenage mother. ... I was an unmarried teenage mother. Today - hard as it is for me to believe - I'm New ...
4
Public charter schools need equal facilities funding
From the newspaper
With less than a third of ... With less than a third of what traditional campuses get, it's no wonder successful charters have long wait lists
5
Educators in NM rally amid growing teacher shortage
ABQnews Seeker
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has proposed ... Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has proposed pay increases in an effort to attract educators to the state
6
NYC mourns, honors officer killed Friday night
From the newspaper
Rookie was the fourth NYPD officer ... Rookie was the fourth NYPD officer shot in as many days
7
Taxpayers face overloaded IRS as filing season opens
From the newspaper
Expected delays due to stalled legislation ... Expected delays due to stalled legislation and worker shortage
8
Taliban talks spark debate about group's recognition
AP Feeds
Talks reignite the debate over whether ... Talks reignite the debate over whether they legitimize the Taliban government
9
NM tech firms awarded state matching grants
ABQnews Seeker
The NM SBIR grants are designed ... The NM SBIR grants are designed to support local science and technology companies in achieving their commercialization goals, according to a news release from ...