ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – More teachers are leaving the Albuquerque Public School district, and some claim it’s because of new state regulations.
No matter what the reason is, at a time when APS is adding dozens of positions, it’s put them in a bind to fill vacancies.
The school year just ended and APS is in need of more teachers.
So far, 235 teachers have retired this year, up from 198 last year and 163 the year before. As of February, 340 teachers resigned, compared to 300 last year and 257 the year before.
“Teachers have been talking all year about how demoralized they are for several reasons,” said Ellen Bernstein, President of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.
Bernstein claims state-required testing of students is partially to blame for some teachers leaving.
“The final straw were these confusing, inaccurate, horrible blame and shame teacher evaluation scores that came out,” Bernstein added.
Bernstein said the new teacher evaluations use state-mandated test scores to draw unfair conclusions.
“I think that’s all a part of the red herring as well as the excess in retirements that are being claimed by those who are just not in favor of reform on behalf of our students,” said Larry Behrens, Public Information Officer for the New Mexico Public Education Department.
New teacher evaluations are tools the state PED claims, have been helpful. “What we know is that this has given parents, schools and districts more information than they’ve ever had about the teachers and how we’re doing as a state based on student achievement, than we’ve ever had in the history of New Mexico,” said Behrens.
The PED also claims the New Mexico Education Educational Retirement Board shows the number of teachers retiring statewide is about the same as last year.
APS couldn’t attribute it’s loss to a specific reason. But with a new push to get class sizes back down, the plan is to add dozens of positions, so there are even more jobs to fill before the fall.
“Ultimately the casualty of this political system will be the students in the schools,” said Bernstein.
APS officials said their new budget allows between 50-80 new teaching positions to help reduce class sizes. The district will likely hold a teacher job fair this summer to ramp up recruiting, which is something they haven’t done in about four years.
APS used to have a state waiver that allowed them to have higher than normal class sizes. Officials said the district doesn’t have that waiver this coming school year, but does have more money in the budget to hire more teachers.