Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
RIO RANCHO – The state agency in charge of public education says it’s taking steps to lighten the paperwork load on teachers after overhauling a host of administrative reporting requirements.
The changes are intended to make it easier for teachers to craft their professional development plans, share data and initiate plans to help students with special education needs, state and local education officials said Monday.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat up for reelection this year, announced the changes surrounded by the student council at Ernest Stapleton Elementary School in Rio Rancho.
The goal, she said, is to give teachers more time to spend directly with students or preparing for class.
“Government, we have a tendency without thinking about it to just layer on bureaucratic work that’s often redundant, unnecessary and not very valuable,” Lujan Grisham said.
The changes come after the governor signed an order in May calling for the review and as New Mexico pushes to recruit and retain more teachers. The state raised its minimum teacher salaries this year by $10,000, or to at least $50,000 a year.
New Mexico has struggled with persistently poor academic outcomes. About 34% of third- to eighth-grade students taking part in annual assessment were proficient in language arts and 25% were proficient in math, according to data released last month.
Expanding instructional time for students is part of the state’s strategy for boosting academic achievement. Lujan Grisham said the changes announced Monday won’t give the state less data on student performance.
Her Republican opponent, Mark Ronchetti, released an education plan last week that calls for enacting new limits on how much schools may spend on administration. He also proposed $1,500 stipends for low-income families with young children to pay for tutoring to help their kids catch up.
Also on the Nov. 8 ballot is Libertarian Karen Bedonie.
In a news conference, Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said some of the administrative changes announced Monday are going into effect immediately while others will take more time. It may require legislative approval, for example, to target repetitive trainings or other requirements teachers are subject to, he said.
Rio Rancho Superintendent Sue Cleveland said technology upgrades are already helping reduce some of the administrative burden on teachers and other educators. Recent changes streamlining some special education paperwork, she said, will allow teachers to more quickly help students.
“Our school districts and staff have been requesting a reduction in the administrative burden for a really, really long time,” Cleveland said.