- Without strategic support systems for both educators and school leaders, and a targeted approach to recruiting hard-to-staff positions, New Mexico will continue to experience inefficiencies and high costs, such as high teacher turnover
There may be more than meets the eye when it comes to New Mexico’s teacher shortage.
While research centers and public agencies have widely reported a statewide educator shortage of over 1,000 this year, teacher ranks have actually gone up, analysts for the Legislative Finance and Legislative Education Study committees wrote in a brief presented on Thursday.
And since 2012, student enrollment numbers have dropped by 8%, they said.
“While enrollments have decreased over the past five years, the total number of public school teachers in New Mexico grew by 996 … including 470 teachers in charter schools,” analysts wrote.
Faltering student enrollments across the state will force schools to be more strategic about how many people they employ, analysts said.
As of September 2021, there were 1,048 teacher vacancies across school districts, according to a report by New Mexico State University’s Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center. There were 1,727 educator vacancies total when including staff like educational assistants and counselors.
But it’s unclear from that report which specific districts had the biggest shortages, and analysts said that while the report “implies the state had a teacher shortage, it does not show how long vacancies went unfilled, or average vacancies over months.”
Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Scott Elder has said that his district, for example, has eliminated hundreds of positions this year based on enrollment, in part by transferring teachers into open positions and condensing classes.
One part of New Mexico’s difficulties with its educator workforce is that according to preliminary data, teachers have begun to come with a little less experience, and stick around for a bit less time.
In 2019, according to the brief, teachers averaged nearly 12 years of experience, and had put in an average of about eight years with their districts. By 2021, those numbers had slightly dropped to just under 11 years of experience and about seven-and-a-half years with districts.
“Without strategic support systems for both educators and school leaders, and a targeted approach to recruiting hard-to-staff positions, New Mexico will continue to experience inefficiencies and high costs, such as high teacher turnover,” analysts wrote.