On March 1st, 2022, your union’s monthly Fed Rep Council had a special guest appearance by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten.
Weingarten was invited to Santa Fe to meet with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as she signed a bill to provide a substantial raise to the minimum pay for teachers on the 3-Tier System. The governor also signed bills expanding teacher residency programs, allowing retirees to return to the classroom, and adding $100 million to the state teacher pension fund over the next three years.
Weingarten talked about how this year has been harder than last year, but with the headline bill having been signed, teachers will be getting significant raises in recognition of their hard work. She said teachers will receive raises that are “not nearly what anybody is worth, but pretty significant in terms of what is going on around the rest of the country.”
With the growing polarization in the United States, Weingarten explained that the most important antidote is for us as educators to continue fighting for what’s right and to be the aspiration agents. She encouraged educators to continue fighting the good fight for our students and public schools. She asserted that the bi-partisan passage of the raises underscored the people of New Mexico’s understanding of the importance of public education.
AFT engaged in deep-dive polling in November and December, questioning parents on their opinions about public education. The results were overwhelmingly positive:
- 72% of Americans said they loved their children’s public schools;
- 78% “like” or “love” their children’s public school teachers;
- 80% of respondents believe their public school professionals do everything they can to help their children;
- 78% of those polled believed that public schools re-opened the right way; and
- Half of American parents believe that unions are part of the solution for improving public education and not part of the problem (a 20-point increase since 2015).
In her recent New York Times column, Pres. Weingarten said, “Every moment in history, and every new day, can be viewed through a lens of hope or fear, aspiration or anger. We have seen how anger can consume, misguide, and divide people. But we know that aspiration can lead to understanding our differences and having empathy for one another’s fears. It leads to knowing that our shared hope for a better life is not a zero-sum game—that we all benefit from access to good jobs; high-quality healthcare, public schools, and colleges; freedom from discrimination; and voice in our democracy. I think we can all agree that, as individuals and as a country, our hopes take us further than our fears.”
We’d like to thank Randi for spending time with our Fed Reps, supporting New Mexican educators by meeting with the Governor, and inspiring us to continue our important work.
A video of Weingarten’s entire speech from Fed Rep Council is up now on our YouTube page: