A Taos High School Advanced Placement English teacher has turned down a $5,000 bonus from the state education department, criticizing Governor Susana Martinez’s education initiatives.
When Francis Hahn received a letter from the Public Education Department informing him that his application for a stipend for teaching AP students had been approved, he was confused. The literature and composition teacher had never heard of the bonus, so he made some calls and found out the reward was based on his students’ AP test scores from a couple of years ago.
Hahn says he was insulted that out of his entire school district, he alone would be rewarded for how well his students performed.
"When I step into my AP senior class I look around and I see attentive, engaged, intelligent kids," Hahn said. "They are ready to learn and it wasn't me who put them in that position. It’s evident!"
Hahn said that he is disturbed that only AP teachers are eligible for the reward. He added that being offered merit pay for doing his job is not only inappropriate, it generates divisiveness amongst staff and leads to a conflict of interest for educators.
The Public Education Department did not respond to KUNM’s request for comment, but issued a statement to The Taos News that said the agency respected Hahn’s position and that the bonuses are "leading the way in helping New Mexico's students rank first in the nation in Advanced Placement" scores.
Last year, the Governor announced that up to 300 teachers would be eligible for the cash incentive.
You can read Hahn's blog here.