by Félix Pérez/image courtesy of Steve Terrell
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, often mentioned as a tailor-made candidate for national office, set off a firestorm last week when secretly taped discussions revealed she thought teachers are paid too much.
Take Action ›
Don’t miss out on the kind of education, legislative and political news you can only get with EdVotes. Click here ›
Martinez, in the final year of her first term as governor, said in a campaign strategy meeting, “During the campaign, we can’t say it, I guess, because it’s education, but I really keep going back to that . . . keeping the teachers from feeling the pain when they already don’t work, you know, two and a half months out of the year or three months out of the year but earn salaries at the same rate of people who do work 12 months a year.”
Teachers found the remarks demeaning and said they reflect Martinez’s lack of understanding of the profession.
The work of educating a new generation is so much more than ‘just a job,’ and we deserve more respect from our governor. The public should not be deceived.
According to data for 2012-13, New Mexico ranks 47th in the nation in teacher salary. New Mexico teachers earn 81% of the national average salary for teachers.
“Very few teachers work only nine months, very few get paid as if they worked twelve months,” said Patterson. “Most teachers use the summer for professional development, to learn new curriculum and to write curriculum for their districts. We also work on lesson plans and collaborative planning with peers . . . During the nine months teachers work directly with students, we put in endless hours beyond what is paid or expected.”
Martinez did not apologize for the remarks or dispute their accuracy. Instead, she ridiculed Mother Jones, the magazine in which they were published, for “peddling false, personal attacks against me.”
The comments about teachers were part of a wide-ranging story in which Martinez, who has carefully cultivated an image as a straight-shooter, and her staff attack the state’s women’s commission, a Hispanic chamber of commerce and her opponents, at times using profane, graphic language.
The governor used the article to raise campaign donations. The pitch raised $15,000 in the first few hours, according to a Tweet from Martinez.