ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is renewing its push to support teachers and keep them in the state, and is partnering with public colleges and universities to help. “I think we’ve all noticed over time that the teacher vacancy rate had increased in New Mexico to astronomical numbers,” Stephanie Rodriguez, Cabinet Secretary of New Mexico’s Higher Education Department said.
In 2018, New Mexico had more than 1,700 teacher vacancies. In 2020, the state had 571 teacher vacancies.
“Am I concerned about that 500 number? Absolutely. But are we getting things done? Yes, we are,” Rodriguez said. She said the department received $7.5 million to grow programs and scholarships that are helping educate and retain teachers in the state, like the Grow Your Own Teacher Scholarship.
“So, educational assistants, instruction aides, and other school personnel employees can actually take professional leave during the school day and go to school at any of our public colleges and universities that offer education programs. And while they’re there they can get their bachelor’s degree and then come back, get their teacher’s licensure and get into the classroom,” Rodriguez said.
Another program being supported is the Teacher Preparation Affordability Scholarship. It awards up to $6,000 each academic year to cover tuition and other costs. Rodriguez said the Loan For Service program is also helping build the teacher workforce in New Mexico.
“And then the other one is Loan For Service. So, once you become a licensed educator and teacher, you can actually get your loans paid off, which is exciting,” Rodriguez said. Since 2019, more than 1,300 educators have benefitted from these programs. Rodriguez hopes more will.
“It’s important to know that many of our public colleges and universities started as center points to create educators here in New Mexico and educate New Mexicans,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been really working on harnessing that tradition and history the past couple years in this administration so that we can show that teaching is a wonderful profession, it’s a needed profession. It’s a critical profession to ensure the success of little New Mexicans moving forward into the future. “
The state’s Early Childhood Education and Care Department also received $7 million from the legislature to support bilingual and multi-cultural education in the state.