Q. These bills all talk about extending classroom time, but what about quality education or teachers having a (teacher’s assistant) to help out? Many classes have too many students and those “at-risk” students will still fall through the cracks. – Sonia Marr
A: A push to extend New Mexico’s school year to bolster academic proficiency has already generated ample debate at the Roundhouse.
But there are other approaches on the table, too.
For instance, one bill, House Bill 127, would more than double the minimum annual salary for education assistants – from $12,000 to $25,000 – in an attempt to hire and retain more classroom aides.
There were 446 teachers’ assistant vacancies as of last year – or about one-third of all educator vacancies, according to a New Mexico State University report.
Currently, New Mexico law sets class size limits, such as no more than 20 students per class in kindergarten, and stipulates that teachers with larger class sizes should get the help of a teacher’s assistant.
But, for most elementary school grades, the class size limits are based on an average for an individual school, meaning some classes can have more students than allowed by state law if other classrooms at the same school have fewer than the maximum.