by Félix Pérez; copyrighted photo courtesy of Emily’s List
When it came time to decide which candidate for governor they would recommend, New Mexico educators were faced with two starkly different choices.
One, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has a lengthy track record of working on behalf of educators and wants to turn the page on a “punitive testing-first evaluation system.” The second, Steve Pearce, said he is “excited to work with the Trump Administration to advance and strengthen the educational system in New Mexico.”
Notably, Pearce has refused to say he would not appeal a landmark court decision in which a state district judge ruled the state must devise a plan by April 2019 to provide more resources to students, which could drag the issue out for years. Lujan Grisham said if she is elected she will “embrace” the court decision.
Lujan Grisham, elected to Congress in 2012 and a former secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health, has earned the support of the National Education Association of New Mexico and American Federation of Teachers New Mexico, which represent thousands of educators across the state.
Said Betty Patterson, president of NEA-NM:
Teachers and other educators are looking forward to a new governor who better understands New Mexicans heartfelt desire for a world-class education system. There is no time to lose for New Mexico students, so we say it’s time for Michelle Lujan Grisham for our next governor. We have full confidence that Rep. Lujan Grisham will support students and educators in a way that sets them up to be successful.
Save the Children Action Network, an organization dedicated to “building bipartisan will and voter support to make sure every child in the U.S. has access to high-quality early learning,” endorsed Lujan Grisham. “As the mother of two children and a graduate of the University of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham understands the vital role education plays in creating a strong economy. That is why she has outlined creative funding mechanisms for increased investment in education to fix the state’s teacher shortage crisis, reduce the high school dropout rate, and make universal access to early childhood education a “hallmark” of her administration in Santa Fe,” said SCAN President Kris Perry.
Lujan Grisham has unveiled an 11-point education plan that has drawn positive reviews. To be developed and implemented with the support and input of educators across the state, the plan includes:
- Passing a constitutional amendment to increase distribution from the Permanent School Fund to help fill funding gaps for pre-K and K-12
- Making universal access to high-quality re-K a reality
- Implementing an across-the-board salary increase for teachers, education support professionals and principals, and
- Adopting rigorous competency-based Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) standards.
For educators, it’s not simply a matter of what Lujan Grisham promises to do if elected. As a member of Congress, she earned an ‘A’ on the National Education Association’s Legislative Report Card each of her two terms. She voted to restore funding for after-school community centers. She opposed a tax cuts bill that cuts public education funding, creates school voucher-like schemes for the wealthy and adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit. She voted for a a bill that would require the Secretary of Education to develop and enforce conflict of interest guidelines for all charter schools receiving federal assistance.
Lujan Grisham also voted against the Trump tax cut legislation. The tax cuts jeopardize $190 million in state education funding in New Mexico over 10 years.
Pearce has earned an ‘F’ every term he’s served in Congress. He voted for the nation’s only federally funded private school voucher program, in Washington, D.C., in favor of cutting education funding on multiple occasions, and against a bill aimed at preventing expansion of a program that protects Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the United States as undocumented children. There are an estimated 6,800 Dreamers who live in New Mexico.