Report: New Mexico on ‘right track’ in terms of teacher pay

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The country’s largest teacher union released new rankings Tuesday, showing which states are paying their teachers the best. Union leaders said New Mexico should be a role model for the rest of the nation.

The National Education Association surveyed thousands of its members across the country on just how much money they’re making — and the results were pretty bleak.

Data shows the average teacher pay is going up, but when adjusted for inflation, teachers are making $2,000 less than they were 10 years ago.

"Startling new data from NEA reports indicate we have a long way to go," said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association.

Pringle said just about every state needs to do more to increase teacher pay to liveable levels, but she said New Mexico is already on the right track.

"Other states, like Mississippi and New Mexico, are taking this seriously, and they recently passed legislation authorizing historic pay increases," said Pringle.

She’s talking about Senate Bill 1, signed into law back in March. It’s promising all New Mexico teachers a 7% raise and increases the starting salary for new teachers to $50,000.

"The fact that NEA is saying we made a great step. I agree with them. We have, and that’s huge," and Ellen Bernstein, president of Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

Bernstein said it will take a few years to see how those raises will affect New Mexico’s teacher shortage but admitted this is only a first step.

"We have been neglecting the profession of education for so long in this country. It is going to take not just big raises over time, but huge effort to make sure that this is a profession that is attractive and respected and supports the people in the profession to do the best job they can," said Bernstein.