Some teachers bristle at NM stipends for transfers

September 24, 2013 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Some New Mexico teachers are bristling at a new state program that offers a $5,000 stipend for those who agree to transfer from top-graded schools to low-graded ones.

Teacher union officials said the initiative by Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration will be both ineffective and disruptive.

Meanwhile, an administration spokesman said the program is “about helping students” in struggling schools.

According to the Public Education Department, teachers in the Española, Questa and Taos school districts in northern New Mexico [auth] have expressed interest in the program, the Santa Fe New Mexican ( ) reported.

Under the program, the state will pay $5,000 stipends to teachers who agree to transfer from A- and B-graded schools to one labeled D or F.

Transferring teachers must commit to two years at their new schools. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.

Ellen Bernstein, head of the Albuquerque Teachers Association, said moving teachers disrupts learning, and another union leader said the offer is demoralizing to teachers.

“It’s a false assumption that just because a teacher works at a better school because of the A-F grade that they are a better teacher,” said Bernice-García Baca, a school counselor who is president of the National Education Association’s affiliate in Santa Fe.

“I am sure most of the teachers at those A and B schools are excellent, but I’m just as sure that many of our teachers working at D and F schools are excellent, too.”

Larry Behrens, spokesman for the Public Education Department, said the offer “isn’t about labeling teachers, it’s about helping students. Practices utilized at our successful schools could be extended to our struggling schools if the educators involved feel it is the right fit for students.”

In August, the governor also announced that more than 100 teachers working in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics would receive a $5,000 stipend this year for transferring to or remaining in “hard-to-staff” schools around the state.

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