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EDUCATION

School district, NMSU, state partner on apprenticeship program

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“New Mexico has an identified teacher shortage,” New Mexico State University said in its 2018 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report.

On Aug. 23, new NMSU Provost Carol Parker joined U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) Sec. Bill McCamley, Las Cruces Public Schools Associate Superintendent Wendi Miller-Tomlinson and LCPS teacher David Morales at a news conference announcing a new partnership among NMSU, LCPS and the state to create a “teacher apprenticeship pathway program” to address the shortage.

“If you have ever thought about becoming a teacher, we want you,” said Miller-Tomlinson, who is LCPS’ associate superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. “Come and join us. It’s the most important job in the world.”

“We love you, we value you,” McCamley said, addressing teachers and potential teachers. “You are vital to the future of our community.”

McCamley, a graduate of Mayfield High School, former Las Cruces state representative and Doña Ana County commissioner, said NMDWS’s Southwest Workforce Development Board (SWWDB) will use federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds to help pay tuition costs for people leaving other professions to become teachers through LCPS’ alternative licensure program.

Through a combination of scholarships, Pell grants and other funding sources, NMSU will “streamline the process” of providing financial aid to its education majors. “NMSU is stepping up to the plate in a major way,” McCamley said.

“It’s vital that we support our teachers,” said Parker, who became provost in July. The additional aid provided by NMSU could impact as many as 700 potential teachers at NMSU, she said, helping to “reduce student loan debt of future teacher graduates.”

“I am excited about this partnership,” said Morales, a Mayfield High School teacher and 2016 New Mexico teacher of the year. He will head up a mentorship for incoming teachers that is part of the teacher apprenticeship program.

Also attending the news conference were interim LCPS Superintendent Steven Sanchez, incoming Interim Superintendent Karen Trujillo, Doña Ana Community College President Monica Torres, NMSU Outreach Center Director Susan Brown, Bridge of Southern New Mexico Executive Director Tracey Bryan, Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Debbi Moore, LCPS Board of Education member Ed Frank and SWWDB President Joshua Orozco.

“I know you are all in this together for our future,” said Torres Small, a Las Cruces attorney whose father was a school bus driver and her mother a classroom teacher for 29 years.

“Many factors influence the increasing need for teachers in New Mexico including salary, working conditions and work expectations,” according to the NMSU Educator Vacancy Report. “According to the Learning Policy Institute Interactive tool [2018], New Mexico has a Teacher Attractiveness Rating of 2.18 on a scale of 1 to 5, which considers compensation, working conditions, teacher qualifications, and teacher turnover. Although New Mexico scores near the national average in most of these categories, there is a discrepancy in Compensation and Teaching Related Job Insecurity: the percentage of teachers who worry about the security of their job due to the performance of their students or school on state and local tests. In New Mexico 32 percent of the teachers surveyed said they had testing-related job insecurity. The national average was 12 percent.

Read the full NMSU report at alliance.nmsu.edu.

Mike Cook may be contacted at mike@lascrucesbulletin.com.

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