- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 15, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico school districts are giving teachers state-issued $100 debit cards to help buy classroom supplies, but one union is urging teachers to be cautious in accepting the offer over concerns the fine print may put teachers’ licenses at risk.

Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein said the cards being distributed this week are “an insult” to educators because they come as districts face teacher shortages.

The union isn’t taking an official stance on the cards, but union leaders are encouraging teachers to send Gov. Susana Martinez a signed postcard declaring “$100 will not buy my silence” while educators protest the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

“Receiving this VISA card is not a ‘privilege’ as stated in the New Mexico Teacher’s Classroom Supply Agreement, rather, it is an insult to all educators,” the postcard reads.

More importantly, teachers say the agreement they have to sign to get the cards puts their licenses in jeopardy if an out-of-state contractor concludes their purchases violate the agreement, union officials said.

New Mexico Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said the purpose of the debit cards is to help teachers who often use their own money to buy school supplies. Skandera said she doesn’t understand the union’s objections and she’s “utterly disappointed” the Albuquerque Teachers Federation isn’t supporting the cards.

“It’s unconscionable for a special interest group that claims to represents teachers to be doing this,” Skandera said.

Skandera said teachers can use the cards at approved vendors and the signed agreement is aimed at protecting tax dollars. Teachers have to keep receipts for the items they buy, which is what educators already do for tax purposes, she said. The contractor will keep track of the receipts, Skandera said.

Bernstein said the “red tape” just isn’t worth it for teachers.

“This is designed just to get Susana Martinez some street cred among teachers,” she said. “If she wants to help teachers, end this evaluation system and fully fund school systems.”

State officials say the debit cards have been distributed to 23,000 teachers from 189 school districts and charter schools.

The cards are part of $2 million in one-time funding to help offset the cost of classroom supplies for teachers.


Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at https://twitter.com/russcontreras .


This story has been corrected to show that the union is urging teachers to be cautious in accepting the debit cards, not telling them to decline them.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide

Sponsored Stories