Parents, students join educators to prepare for Roundhouse rally

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SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico lawmakers are getting ready for the upcoming 30-day legislative session that begins on Tuesday, Jan. 18. There’s a lot of proposals on the table, including calls for more help for New Mexico’s educators.

Teachers say they are over-worked and underpaid, and want state leaders to do something about it. And many are preparing right now in Santa Fe to make their demands heard.

In an effort to make their voices heard, New Mexico educators are spending their weekend making posters in preparation for the rally at the Roundhouse.

“We need our voices to be heard, we need people who are making decisions to listen to the educators in the classroom,” said Grace Mayer Santa Fe NEA president and art teacher.

A nurse in every school — need pay to stay.

“We are really in crisis here in New Mexico, it is not sustainable the way things are going right now,” said Jenni St. Clair, special education teacher.

Over the last couple of years– being a teacher has become more difficult

“We are taking on multiple jobs and we are doing more and more everyday and the stress level is unbearable,” Mayer said.

The classroom has changed because of COVID– there are fewer teachers.

“I am a special education teacher and I was teaching 1st grade all week–I was not able to meet my special education students this week because I had to cover for a 1st grade teacher who was out with COVID,” said St. Clair.

Many teachers have similar stories of taking on more work but not getting any more pay.

"Well there are a couple of things that we are asking for that we think would help," said Mayer.

Guaranteed planning time — access to child care– better staffing and of course more pay.

“We are asking for a10% raise for all teachers a minimum of $15 an hour for all school staff, for instance, secretaries and custodians could walk out go across the street to McDonald’s or Walmart and make $3 to $5 more per hour. So it’s hard to keep those people who keep our district running,” said St. Clair.

This isn’t the first time these teachers have asked for improvements– they say their voices have not been heard by the legislature.

“They should be asking us, ‘what is it that we can manage, what can we put in the back burner, what can we make work for you?’ and they are not,” Mayer said.

These teachers will be bringing all the signs they made this weekend to the round house on Sunday, Jan. 23. And if you want to help, they will be making more signs Sunday, Jan. 16 at Milagro Middle School in Santa Fe.