New Mexico fills over 350 teacher positions according to new report

Stephanie Montoya

Teacher vacancies cut by nearly 35 percent thanks to historic investments under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham 

New Mexico has decreased the number of unfilled teacher positions by 34 percent and has increased enrollment and graduation from teacher preparation programs as historic investments in education under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham build traction. 

The 2022 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report published by the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation and Policy Center at New Mexico State University revealed that the state filled 358 teacher positions with increases seen in all regions of the state. The report showed that 290 additional students enrolled in teacher preparation programs this year and 48 more students graduated from these programs. 

“Gov. Lujan Grisham took bold action to increase teacher salaries across the state, and this has proven to both help retain the teachers we have and recruit new teachers to the profession,” said Public Education Cabinet Secretary Kurt Steinhaus, Ph.D. “Our teachers are now the highest paid in the Southwest and that makes a difference.” 

“Under the leadership of Gov. Lujan Grisham, we have seen historic investments in education including increases in teacher salaries and loan repayment programs, a monumental investment in the Opportunity Scholarship, and funding for teacher preparation programs. It is clear that these investments are paying off in helping more New Mexicans enter and stay in the classroom,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez said. “The New Mexico Higher Education Department is committed to continuing this work in partnership with the Public Education Department and the state’s public colleges and universities to strengthen the teacher pipeline and train more professionals in New Mexico.” 

The report’s findings also highlight the collaborative partnerships between stakeholders throughout the state, which have resulted in the recruitment and retention of New Mexico’s teacher workforce.   

“Partnerships have resulted in greater numbers of preservice teachers pursuing licensure and entering the teacher workforce, along with fewer teachers leaving the profession,” said Dr. Rick Marlatt, Interim Director of New Mexico State University’s School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership. “These positive trends in teacher vacancies directly reflect the state’s commitment to improving educational outcomes for all students in New Mexico, as well as the dedication from educator preparation programs throughout the state in carrying out numerous exciting initiatives and engaging in innovative programming to recruit, prepare, support, and retain highly qualified educators.” 

“It is great to report an increase in the number of students who are admitted to and who complete a teacher preparation program in the state. We are also seeing an increase in the number students who are pursuing high-needs areas, particularly elementary education and special education, which have had the most teacher vacancies in recent reports,” said Dr. Rachel Boren, Director of the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation and Policy Center at New Mexico State University. 

While many teachers retired amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the profession is rebounding as a result of increased funding for teacher salaries and programs at New Mexico colleges and universities that recruit and train teachers in addition to retaining faculty members. New Mexico teachers are now the highest paid anywhere in the southwestern United States and New Mexicans can enter teacher preparation programs tuition-free thanks to the Opportunity Scholarship. Gov. Lujan Grisham also authorized a change to the return-to-work policy for retired educators earlier this year enabling veteran educators to return to the classroom without losing their retirement benefits.  

“The 2022 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report is a positive reflection of the achievements that happen when our leaders and agencies work together with those in our profession to find solutions to our shared challenges. From higher wages, to easing our return-to-work statutes, and collaborating to return respect to our profession, we are seeing our ranks grow again. While we still have work to do to ensure every position in our system of public education is filled by a highly qualified professional, we know we are moving in the right direction.  Students, families, and communities are best served when our schools and institutions are full, and we are encouraged by this progress and are ready to work to identify other solutions to address our statewide educator vacancies,” said AFT New Mexico President Whitney Holland

“Improved teacher salaries have been an important incentive to get people back into the classroom and New Mexico’s teachers appreciate the hard work of Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Legislature to make this happen. We will continue working together to increase salaries and improve teacher working conditions in order to bring even more people back into the classroom,” said NEA-New Mexico President Mary Parr-Sanchez

The New Mexico Higher Education Department also provided debt relief for over 600 more teachers this past year through its Teacher Loan Repayment Program, allowing teachers to focus on their careers without having to worry about student loan payments. Gov. Lujan Grisham approved an additional $20 million for the program this year and the agency is seeking additional funding in the coming year to keep up with a record number of applicants.  

New Mexicans interested in becoming a teacher can visit to learn more about available programs and positions for current and future educators.