We’re Listening & Your Voice Matters: A Legislative Update From The Secretary

We’re Listening & Your Voice Matters: A Legislative Update From The Secretary


Here’s the reality: HB310 is by far the most comprehensive, the most far-reaching, and the largest teacher compensation bill under consideration this legislative session.

That’s why I decided to testify on behalf of the diverse group of sponsors–Representatives Baldonado (Valencia), Clahchischilliage (San Juan), and Smith (Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe)—on Saturday morning:  because this kind of legislation has the potential to be transformative for educators, for students, and for this profession that we love.

It’s also important to note that the tabling of HB310 is part of a broader trend of unabashed partisanship that we have witnessed this session.  As a former middle school social studies teacher I am idealistic about the democratic process, and I believed that HB210 (Early Literacy Interventions & Family Engagement), HB 297 (Addressing Chronic Absenteeism), HB180 (More Funding For Schools, Less For District Offices), and HB177 (Teacher Advancement w/o Master’s Degree) would all garner enthusiastic bipartisan support.  After all, I’ve worked for leaders from both sides of the aisle who have supported similar ideas.  Two of these bills had bipartisan sponsors, and all four were revised based on feedback from legislators and the field.

Unfortunately, all of these bills were stopped in their tracks by hyper-partisanship at the Roundhouse this year.

HB310 did several things that I thought were noteworthy, and several things that stakeholders and legislators on both sides of the aisle had requested:

  1. Increased the starting salary of Level 1 teachers by $4,000 to $38,000, permanently
  2. Guaranteed a 2.5% salary increase to all educators, permanently
  3. Guaranteed a 2% salary increase to all non-licensed school staff, permanently
  4. Included a $5 million appropriation for teacher recruitment activities (and an amendment from the committee integrated teacher mentoring as well!)
  5. Increased the starting salaries of Level 2 and Level 3 teachers by $2,000, permanently


The House Education Committee had the responsibility to consider this bill on its educational merits.  A multi-pronged approach to improving teacher compensation is both necessary and overdue.  I believed it would generate bipartisan support and sufficient funding—but it was tabled in hyper-partisan fashion, same as the rest.

If you’re fuming, I get it.  You are working hard, advocating for your kids, trying to get involved while still working a full day.  Meanwhile, you’re up against powerful special interests groups that camp out in the Roundhouse for the full session.  It’s a situation that’s rigged against our students and, in many ways, our profession.

I still believe HB310 to be the strongest piece of teacher compensation legislation around, and given that many of you have reached out to me, it seems you may think so, too.  People have asked me—what can we do to keep this possibility alive, both in the short-term and the long-term?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • The House Education Committee members who tabled the bill could bring HB310 “off the table”
  • AFT/ATF was the only group that stood-up in opposition to HB310, yet they had substantial influence: http://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00293/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20180213/-1/46376
  • The Executive Budget recommendation included a multi-pronged approach to teacher compensation, and we will continue to fight for it
  • Over the long-term, more teacher and parent voice is needed in these processes—both during session and during the interim


All this being said, your advocacy and belief in elevating teacher and parent voices have not been for nothing.  We’re still working with the Legislature on a 2018-19 (FY19) budget that would include a large teacher compensation increase, a substantial increase in Pre-K funding, higher levels of funding for transportation and instructional materials, and the preservation of the successful programs that have driven outcomes in your schools (from AP fee waivers to Reads to Lead).  More than ever in our state’s history, there is a diversity of teacher and parent voices being heard on issues that impact our students.  Student achievement results are on the rise, we have the #1 State Plan under ESSA in the nation, and you’re building a community of educators and families that are demanding more for our kids.

It’s an honor and a privilege to work on your behalf every day.  Let your voices be heard—and remember that our civic and moral outrage must be sustained over time.  Our students need us to keep up the fight.

In partnership—


Christopher N. Ruszkowski
Secretary of Education
New Mexico Public Education Department

12 Replies to “We’re Listening & Your Voice Matters: A Legislative Update From The Secretary”

  1. New Mexico will continue to lose highly qualified, motivated teachers if they do not do something to show us we are appreciated and our hard work has been noticed. It’s not the only state in the Union.

  2. Maybe tell us which partisan group stopped these bills so we can vote them out and bring in people who genuinely care for public servants and not interest groups. This also sounds like you are not doing your job to effectively advocate for us Christopher.

    1. Here’s how committee members voted:
      • Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard (D) – Oppose
      • Representative Andrés Romero (D) – Oppose
      • Representative Alonzo Baldonado (R) – Support
      • Representative Jim Dines (R) – Support
      • Representative Jimmie Hall (R) – Support
      • Representative Jim Little (R) – Support
      • Representative Dennis Roch (R) – Support
      • Representative Tomás Salazar (D) – Oppose
      • Representative Debra Sariñana (D) – Oppose
      • Representative James Smith (R) – Support
      • Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D) – Oppose
      • Representative Christine Trujillo (D) – Oppose
      • Representative Linda Trujillo (D) – Oppose

  3. Thank you for standing up for teachers, and advocating for our needs … which ultimately are for students! Please keep up the fight!!!

  4. This is FALSE! HB310 had no mention of evaluation or performance-based compensation. It provided language that created statutory minimum salaries for level 1 – $38,000, level 2 – $44,000, and level 3 – $54,000. In addition, the bill included language that would increase all teachers’ salaries by 2.5% across the board. Again, there was no mention of evaluation or test scores. It was just an across the board raise for all teachers.

    There was additional language to put $5 million toward recruitment efforts for new teachers.

    Your assertions about being accountable to student learning outcomes are your own, and you are entitled to them. Once, we as a state, stop fighting against our own accountability, we might be able to actually make our students move forward with the rest of the country and make New Mexico competitive.

  5. Obviously, this is quite disappointing. I just don’t get it. But it is what it is right now so let’s focus on other things that the PED could do.

    Here is a brief list:
    1. Decrease class sizes.
    2. Provide a stipend for all of the teacher trainings and other programs rather than just a mileage and substitute reimbursement. I WANT to go to these things but I don’t want to donate evenings and Saturdays anymore.
    3. Remove some or simplify the testing/performance standards. Teachers and students are stressed out because we all have to perform. My favorite part of teaching is the students and I would like more time to have fun with my subject and help foster successful and interested citizens instead of testing drones.
    4. Instead of waiting until there is an epidemic to give teachers the ability to stay home without getting punished – remove all limits to sick days.
    5. Make sure to switch the thinking of: “What can TEACHERS do to fix NM education?” to “What can NM do to make things EASIER on teachers so that they can help students become great citizens of our communities and state?”

    I’m thankful for those educational leaders on this site who are willing to help. I do see more of a movement with the PED to reach out to teachers than ever before so I want to give kudos to that. Please continue to think out-of-the-box and help keep great teachers in New Mexico!

    1. So sorry for the delay! Stumbled across this as it got lost and wanted to be sure you knew your feedback is heard. We appreciate your work in the classroom and absolutely need voices like yours. Please consider applying to be a school liaison! More info on that here.

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