KUNM

Educators Sue Martinez Administration

Sep 29, 2014

Charles Bowyer is the executive director of NEA New Mexico. He says the lawsuit against Skandera is no small thing.
Credit Rita Daniels

An education labor union has filed a lawsuit in state district court against Public Education Secretary Designate Hannah Skandara.  The National Education Association of New Mexico says they are at their wits’ end over the teacher evaluation system and are asking the courts to intervene.

For over a decade local superintendents have been responsible for evaluating their teachers’ performance. The Martinez administration has been pushing a plan that would instead allow the State to conduct teacher evaluations based primarily on student standardized test scores. The legislature twice rejected that plan but last year the Public Education Department implemented the new system anyway.

Now, the NEA and a handful of plaintiffs are suing Secretary Designate Skandera arguing that implementing the new system is both illegal and unconstitutional.

One of the plaintiffs, Manessa Young Padilla, came to teaching through the alternative licensure program and has taught math and science in Los Lunas for the past six years.

"The State of New Mexico, the people who wanted desperately for me to change careers and enter the classroom, have suddenly decided that I am a minimally effective teacher," Young Padilla said, crying.

A former accountant, Padilla says her students get tested multiple times a year and the State only cares about their performance on the day they test, regardless of what is going on in their lives.  She says it's not the whole picture, and it's not fair.

"I have considered going back to accounting,” Young Padilla explained, “but refuse to be driven out by people who have not taught a day in their life."

The plaintiffs say they are in favor of a new teacher evaluation system but want it to be constructive and created by their peers.

Meanwhile the number of teachers that are choosing to retire continues to climb around the state while teaching positions remain unfilled.