By: Rae Arnett
More than 1000 New Mexico educators, parents, and students rallied at the Roundhouse Thursday afternoon according to Santa Fe Public Schools. With the hundreds of participants marching, chanting, and holding signs, it is hard not to believe the Governor and members of New Mexico’s state senate and congress did not hear the displeasure of their constituents.
The rally started off with marching around the roundhouse and chanting “save our schools” and “no more cuts”.
One woman in an upper level office at the roundhouse actually closed her window in an attempt to drown out the protests. Others in offices at the roundhouse stood at their windows and quietly cheered the protestors on.
Lana Wimberly, the 7th and 8th grade math and science teacher at Nino Otero community school showed up Thursday, March 16th, to support her school and all New Mexico educators as they protested outside of the New Mexico Roundhouse.
“As soon as the superintendent said she might be giving us some time off the kids and I started planning what we would do,” said Wimberly.
She was a little disappointed it was only a half day off for the schools because that meant some of her students would be able to make it.
“We were planning on where to meet up and how they could find me but with the half day off some of my students won’t be able to make it,” stated Wimberly.
Wimberly is from Texas originally and said Texas teachers have so much more than we do in New Mexico.
“The teachers here in New Mexico don’t even know what they are missing…almost $3000 more a month in pay, and more time off,” said Wimberly. Wimberly was especially disappointed that Governor Martinez would call educators despicable.
“Susanna Martinez just wants to take more away from the schools… she called us despicable,” said Wimberly in a shocked tone.
When asked, Wimberly stated she did not think the session would solve any of the issues at hand.
“I don’t think in this session will solve anything. It looks like the Republican senators are falling in line behind Susanna after she retaliated about them overriding her veto…whatever the next session is, maybe we can come up with something for our schools,” said Wimberly.
Wimberly said she has considered going back to Texas to teach, but she is not planning on going alone.
“I’ve thought about taking other teacher with me back to Texas so they could make more money. I have a five bedroom house there that I rent and I would like to do it just to make a statement,” said Wimberly.
Wimberly stated she has wrote a letter to Governor Martinez telling her about the plan.
Joe Lister Jr., the Medically Fragile and Special Education teacher at Santa Fe High School attended the roundhouse rally because of his concern about how education cuts affect students long term.
“I don’t think law makers understand that education is the foundation for jobs, the street crime, the jails, and all the things that cost more money in the end,” said Lister.
Lister also stated he was concerned about the lac
k of awareness of the federal mandates for special education. “We can’t do it (meet the standards) without funding from the city, the state, and districts. With out that funding they will wreck us,” said Lister.
I don’t know if it’ll get solved but I think the people coming together to be heard is a great thing.
Lister’s main concern for the upcoming school year is how special education will be affected.
“I am concerned the special education children won’t have the proper support needed to fulfill their education needs and how cuts will affect education all the way around,” said Lister.
Lara Becker, the 3rd grade teacher at Amy Biehl Community School, was also in attendance.
Becker said she attended because she was concerned about the budget cuts.
“The superintendent gave us a perfect opportunity to come out here and we are grateful for her,” said Becker.
She stated that she hoped this rally would have a positive impact on how the budget was handled.
“Hopefully if the numbers show then it will make a statement. We can only be hopeful,” said Becker.
Becker’s main concern for next school year is the losing teachers.
“Losing teachers, losing quality teachers. It’s a loss for the kids,” said Becker.
Governor Martinez’s office did not return my call for comment.
Thursday’s March made it clear that New Mexico educators are fed up with the budget cuts to education in the state. New Mexico representatives would do well to listen to them, these protests come from people who voted them into office after all.