- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A New Mexico committee says the state’s relatively low salary for teachers is hurting efforts to recruit and retain educators.

An expert also told lawmakers on the Legislative Education Study Committee that teacher salaries nationwide are failing to keep pace with other professions, driving prospective teachers to look at other careers, reported The New Mexican (https://bit.ly/29y9TCU).

The committee released a report Wednesday that says New Mexico ranks 43rd in the nation for teacher pay levels. The national average pay for teachers is $58,064, while the average compensation in New Mexico is $47,163, according to the report.

Student debt “seems to be the biggest cloud hanging over people entering the profession today,” Richard Sims, chief economist for the National Education Association, told lawmakers during a presentation Wednesday.

Starting teachers in New Mexico earn just $34,000.

“In any other field, you are going to earn more and be able to pay off that debt,” said Sims.

Hobbs Municipal Schools Superintendent T.J. Parks also took part in Wednesday’s presentation. He said he recently interviewed a New York teacher who was earning over $90,000, but was considering moving to Hobbs to be with her boyfriend.

Parks showed her the city’s teacher salary schedule, which would have paid her about $55,000.

“Needless to say, she didn’t stay in Hobbs, New Mexico,” said Parks.

NEA-New Mexico Executive Director Charles Bowyer said the report showed although the state says it is increasing funding for public schools, it isn’t helping teachers much.

Low salaries, he said, “absolutely” impact recruitment and retention of teachers.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, https://www.sfnewmexican.com


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