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‘An historic moment’: New Mexico governor signs teacher pay bill into law

SANTA FE, New Mexico - Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill into law on Tuesday guaranteeing raises for thousands of teachers across New Mexico.

"This raise is a ray of hope," said Terry Claar, an English teacher at Centennial High School with 23 years of experience in education. "I think it’s a start. It needs to go further.” 

Claar told ABC-7 that she's seen colleague after colleague leave the profession because of the low pay. She and her husband, also a teacher, have worked most summers because their jobs paid so little.

"I just don’t want this process to stagnate," she said. "It’s a good place to start, but let’s keep it going and remember that we not only want new teachers in the classroom, we want to encourage our veterans to stay.”

Senate Bill 1 raises the salaries for New Mexico teachers an average of 20%, according to the governor. It will increase the minimum educator salaries in the state's three-tier licensure system to $50,000, $60,000, and $70,000.

Three-tier licensure systemTier 1Tier 2Tier 3
Minimum salary levels$50,000$60,000$70,000

“As a profession, generally speaking, (teachers will) tell you it’s not about the money," said Sean Barham, the executive director of human resources for the district. "It’s so wonderful though that we can bring some of that well deserved money to teachers.”

"What an historic moment for our educators," wrote a Las Cruces Public Schools spokeswoman. "No single profession in the workforce has a bigger impact on our future than teachers in the classroom. We owe them this recognition in pay, and we owe them our continued respect for the tremendous responsibility they have to our students."

According to the Governor's office, the average educator salary would be $64,006 after the raises take effect.

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Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is a former ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and weekend evening newscast anchor.


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