LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Teacher vacancies in the state of New Mexico have dropped by about 13 percent, according to the 2019 New Mexico Educator Vacancy report. However, in the southwest region, which includes Las Cruces, Gadsden, Deming and Hatch Valley, there was a 59 percent increase in vacancies, with 65 teacher vacancies.
The report was compiled the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center at New Mexico State University. Researchers collected data from public schools throughout the state.
While the decrease in total teacher need from 740 last year to 644 this year is encouraging, this is still a large number of educator positions that needed to be filled at the beginning of the school year, said Rachel Boren, director of the center. The state currently has a total of 1,054 educator vacancies, including the 644 teacher vacancies, indicating that there is still a substantial need for educators in New Mexico. Last year’s report found 1,173 total educator vacancies.
"Yes, 644 is a decline, but it's still, when you really think about what that means, that's a lot of classrooms all across the state that didn't have a teacher assigned," Boren said, "and several thousand students that didn't have a teacher of record when they walked into the classroom."
According to the report, the 173 elementary teacher vacancies and 151 special education teacher vacancies combined to make up half of the total teacher need. Last year’s report also indicated these as areas of high need. Within secondary education, the subject with the largest need is math. Educational and instructional assistants also remain in high demand with an increase of 30 percent in vacancies compared to last year, according to the report.
"This kind of report puts clear numbers on what can be viewed as often anecdotal evidence," Boren said, "and I think that the numbers really do illustrate how necessary filling these vacancies is."