ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque Public Schools teachers want to know if it’s possible to go on strike over state-mandated evaluations, and now they have answers, according to a letter obtained Friday by KRQE News 13.
The president of the Albuquerque teachers union said she sent out the letter because teachers want to know if a strike is in an option for them. While Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein said they're not allowed to strike, her letter explains how a strike could work for them.
The issue centers on Gov. Susana Martinez and her education secretary-designate's push for teacher evaluations as part of their education reforms, which the union calls education “deforms” in the letter.
Bernstein's letter has some choice words for the PED’s process calling it a "punitive evaluation scheme causing stress and that many teachers are ready to act."
Bernstein told KRQE News 13 she's heard from countless teachers who are fed up with many asking if a strike is a real possibility.
“Teachers don't have a fear of being evaluated; they have a fear of being evaluated unfairly,” Bernstein said. “It's not set up to evaluate their work. It's set up to be a political statement and a 'gotcha' for teachers statewide.”
Many teachers fear the evaluations will be subjective rather than objective and are a witch hunt, she added.
Bernstein said a strike would be illegal because of a no-strike clause in state law. She makes that clear in the letter but adds she would gladly to go jail by breaking that no-strike clause
She goes on to say it's a statewide problem, not just an APS problem, and that a strike only works if everyone is all in. Teachers must be willing to lose out on pay during a strike, the letter adds.
Earlier this month, Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks emailed teachers acknowledging their frustrations but asking them not to quit.
On Friday, an APS spokesperson said the administration is very concerned about Bernstein's letter and that Brooks told teachers at recent town hall meetings walking out on Albuquerque's kids is not a good idea.
Late Friday night, the governor's office issued a statement saying, “The status quo is unacceptable and the union needs to explain to parents what is unfair about being evaluated in part on the progress students make.”
KRQE News 13 also contacted APS board member Kathy Korte who said that while she doesn't agree with a strike, the PED’s evaluation process needs to be changed.
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