SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Under a new executive order, New Mexico’s Public Education Department is being asked to address and remove what the state considers excessive “administrative burdens” in New Mexico schools. The new directive was announced Monday amid a news conference at Santa Fe’s Aspen Community School.
The order directs the PED to “reduce administrative burdens by at least 25% by the beginning of the next school year,” starting in August 2022. Reflecting on examples of excessive administrative barriers, New Mexico Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus pointed, in part, to the state’s teacher licensure system.
Today, New Mexico teachers are asked to complete a “Professional Development Dossier,” or PDD, to advance between Levels 1, 2 and 3. Some of the differences between each teaching level include pay rates and years between licensure renewal.
Steinhaus noted Monday that the process of creating a PDD takes “many, many hours of work.” In light of the executive order, Steinhaus says the PED is now in the process of looking at the PDD requirement and change it to “assessments that don’t even require the dossier at all,” or what’s otherwise called “micro credentials.” “That will reduce the time that a teacher needs to get a license,” Steinhaus said.
State education leaders also highlighted the likelihood of assessing local, state and federal training requirements for teachers. Recalling his prior role as Los Alamos Schools’ Superintendent, Steinhaus suggested one of the priorities he wanted to bring forward was in the realm of changes to training, and no longer forcing teachers to get training that isn’t needed. He also suggested a new training tracking system where training credentials are recorded at the state level after a teacher complete’s the training.
“Third, we make it easy for teachers to take the training at a time that’s convenient for them, instead of having them,” Steinhaus said. “Instead of have them come in a Saturday, we provide it electronically, and then they can take the test maybe during a planning period or after school.”
Steinhaus said Monday the executive order also helps address what training tests are on the books, saying aside from a reading test in statue, all the other training tests are “under the authority of the Governor.” “This executive order will help us take a really good, hard look at those tests, the costs, the number of them, and figure out a way to reduce them,” he said.
“We are good at piling more and more things on,” Steinhaus said, speaking broadly about administrative burdens during Monday’s news conference. “This is getting us better at subtraction, we are here to take a look at our data systems, our training requirements and figure out ways under [the Governor’s] leadership to make this happen.”
State education leaders also highlighted moves earlier this years to address a shortage of teachers amid the initial omicron wave of COVID-19, which lead to the state streamlining the process of licensing of substitute teachers. Along with the removal of a $50 licensing application fee, the state sped up the substitute licensure process to a matter of days.
The program helped surge more than 160 substitute teachers into classrooms within a week of its launch. Many of those teachers included state workers and members of the New Mexico National Guard.
When asked about licensing teachers and the cost associated with it, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham suggested Monday that the state wants to look at making that “completely free” to schools and school districts. While suggesting that the state has made progress at addressing educator training costs through scholarships, the Governor said the state is not where it ought to be.
“There’s lots of things that enrich an educator, and we want them to have more flexibility with their schools and superintendents to navigate that,” Governor Lujan Grisham said. “If cost is still a prohibitive factor, then that’s something we have have to do better at.”
As for measuring progress in “reducing administrative burdens by 25%”, the PED suggested it would hire an outside agency to assess the state’s administrative rules tied to education. That company is still expected to produce a report sometime around the state of the next school year.