Over the course of this pandemic, parents, teachers, and school staff have put in more hours than you can count making sure our kids kept up their studies. All of the creativity, determination, and resilience displayed over this past year will never be forgotten. Thanks to our successful vaccine campaign, our children are safely returning to in-person instruction all across New Mexico.
PHOTO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich visits Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Las Cruces to announce the new Educator Fellows Program funded by the American Rescue Plan, September 8, 2021.
I want to do everything I can to support a successful school year in New Mexico. As part of the American Rescue Plan that Congress passed earlier this year, I was proud to secure over $1 billion in emergency federal funding for New Mexico’s K-12 public schools. A large share of that funding went directly to local school districts to help them address the specific needs of their students, their educators, and their communities.
This month, I visited Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Las Cruces to highlight the new Educator Fellows program that the New Mexico Public Education Department is launching with $37 million from its American Rescue Plan funds to provide extra help and instruction in our classrooms. This program is designed to address some of the greatest challenges that have long impacted our schools—even before the pandemic.
Our state has long faced a major teacher shortage, and difficulties in recruitment and retention were only exacerbated by the pandemic. As schools return to the classroom, teachers will need additional help to provide small group instruction and targeted tutoring. The Educator Fellows program will hire hundreds of new education assistants and support staff to deliver that extra help. It will also provide college scholarships to these new assistants to help them pursue lifetime careers in education.
This is a promising solution for both our short-term needs and our long-term educator workforce pipeline challenge. And it is exactly the type of foundational, structural investment in our people that will help our families and communities build back better than ever before.
United States Senator