Despite the challenging times, we keep organizing for our students.
In early March our state confirmed the first cases of COVID-19 and from the onset of this outbreak Governor Lujan-Grisham and the Secretary of Education Dr. Ryan Stewart worked with NEA-NM to set an inclusive and collaborative tone to advocate for students, public-school employees and our communities. The Governor issued a series of public health orders and executive orders and we shared pertinent information on our website under the banner Schools and Coronavirus, What should you know? in a collective effort to mitigate the widespread community transmission of COVID-19.
On March 20th, responding to the outbreak, we published the first in a series of newsletters entitled The Advocates Voice, Forging the Path Together with the clear purpose of uplifting the voice of members in the field. This is proudly the 10th edition of that series, a newsletter that has become a source of reliable information for members as we have witnessed how the pandemic sacked our economy and created an uncertain future for students and school staff.
In April, NEA-NM organized a webinar with PED Secretary Dr. Stewart in which more than 500 members had the opportunity to tune and ask questions about “essential and nonessential” staff and other health and safety concerns as school buildings closed down but not school nor learning. In addition, we offered exclusive online extended learning opportunities to members and information around members rights.
During May we never stopped organizing for our students. With June primary elections in-sight, our members worked hard to elect NEA-NM recommended candidates, true public school champions like candidate Neomi Martinez-Parra, SD35, who unseated one the most powerful senators in our state.
In June, we launched a Call to Action, #FundEd100% campaign knowing very well school budgets were on the chopping block. Hundreds of our members took on the challenge and sent close to 900 letters to 103 legislators during the 2020 Legislative Special Session. In the midst of an economic and pandemic crisis that highlighted the institutional racism and inequities of our public schools and communities, we urged our representative to put the safety and well-being of our students first and to understand that New Mexico’s hope for a better future lies in the investments we make today.
Although legislators passed HB 1 during the Special Session, resulting in a 1% sanding of the SEG and millions of dollars being cut from education programs and CARE’s monies dubiously being swapped upsetting schools across the state, we kept organizing. We organized our 2020 Summer Leadership Summit, equipping our members with skills to organize at the local level and a statewide webinar to hold our representatives accountable. Senator Bill Soules, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, met with over 140 members during a Zoom Webinar on June 23 to talk about the aftermath of the Special Session and what that means for students and our members moving forward as schools reopen. And we are currently working towards organizing a series of webinars focusing on school re-entry.
We will continue to organize so that every student in the state of New Mexico is provided with a quality public education regardless of zip code. For that, we make no apologies.