Recently, I posted an article about a story in the Albuquerque Journal about the New Mexico NEA and AFT putting pressure on the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED). I called the suggestions from the two state union groups an “appeasement.”
Also included in my article was a statement from the Albuquerque Teachers Federation (ATF), which was almost a point-by-point agreement with me. The statement was an open letter, which was sent to both state union groups.
Yesterday, I received responses from the presidents of both ATF and AFT NM.
From Stephanie Ly, president of AFT NM:
Dear AFT New Mexico members,
Under the leadership of Governor Martinez, New Mexico has seen three harsh years of
education deforms and mandates that have led to our current education crisis and New
Mexico being rated 50th
in child well-being. Passionate educators are being forced out of
education due to volatile work environments and unfair evaluations. Eager students are
filling into understaffed, undersupplied, and overcrowded classrooms only to be
subjected to weeks upon weeks of TESTING. Parent and community voices are being
ignored. All, while out-of-state corporate deformers deplete what few education
resources we have and label parents, students and educators as the problem.
But where are the real solutions? We all know what our students need, what their
parents need, and what educators need to grant every child in New Mexico the right to
succeed. Students need more one-on-one time with educators, to be seen as individuals
and not as test takers. Schools need to provide wrap around services and foster a safe
learning environment, built on the idea of a school community. Educators need to be
respected as professionals and provided real feedback and professional development.
Parents need to be included and engaged in the education of their children so that NO
ONE falls through the cracks. Our governor needs to prioritize inclusivity, collaboration,
professional respect and equitable funding for education within the Public Education
These goals are at the core of AFT New Mexico’s member created World Class Public
Education System. These are the battles that your fellow union members have been
fighting for the past few years.
When the governor proposed a teacher evaluation system based on 50% testing in
January of 2012, you defeated it. When the PED bypassed the legislative process and
imposed the evaluation through administrative rule in June of 2012, hundreds of fellow
members and community members statewide rallied in Santa Fe to voice their concerns.
United, AFT New Mexico and ATF filed suit against the PED. When Gov. Martinez’s
hand-picked Secretary-Designate, Hanna Skandera, came up for confirmation in
February of 2013, hundreds of parents and educators took action in Santa Fe. You,
momentarily, shut down legislative emails asking for the state to follow its constitution
and NOT confirm an unqualified politician whose policies are detrimental to our
In June of 2013, after the Governor vetoed a legislatively backed, AFT New Mexico
teacher evaluation bill, the PED once again imposed changes through rule. This time
hundreds of educators sent in their frustrations and called for a statewide boycott of the
proceedings. I stood in an empty room, devoid of educator voices, in handcuffs and duct
tape to mourn the loss of an inclusive education process. In August of 2013, when the
PED unveiled its piecemeal, distorted observation process, AFT New Mexico members
voted once again to file a law suit.
AFT New Mexico members and our communities are fighting “Corporate Susana
Martinez”. But the war is not over. In fact, it is in need of reinforcements. Will you join in?
On November 20, 2013, join in a state-wide day of protest during American Education
Week; wear black to mourn the loss of the joy of learning, time for teaching and
professionalism. I also encourage you to participate and to attend your local union
meetings and community forums, talk to your coworkers and neighbors, join the
Committee on Political Education, reach out to your legislators, and call Governor
Martinez to demand a change. Also, save the date for a state-wide rally in Santa Fe on
February 15, 2014.
However, this is not about one rally, or, one legislative session, or, one law suit but it is
about every student, every educator, every parent and every community. Together, we
can make sure that New Mexico is never again ranked 50th
in child wellbeing.
AFT NM President
And, from Ellen Bernstein, president of ATF:
The way to influence the direction of your union is through our elected representative body–the ATF Federation Representative Council. Any ATF Fed Rep can bring forth a motion that is then debated and voted upon by the council. I follow the direction set by the Fed Rep Council.
Since <name withheld> is a Fed Rep, he could bring a motion to the meeting in November. <Name withheld>, if you need help putting the letter below into the form of a motion, I’d be glad to work with you on that. It’s too late to get a motion on the agenda for our November Council meeting, but you can always introduce the motion from the floor.
I stand ready to help. I continue to invite each of you to participate in our union’s work and on-going efforts to change the corporate education reform agenda promoted by state officials. I also invite you all to become members of your union.
The letter was not directed to NEA NM, and the board of NEA NM has not responded to the ATF open letter.