SFPS aims to fill teacher vacancies through fellows program

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 8:00 pm

Pam Watts can imagine teaching math in a public high school in Santa Fe. The St. John’s College graduate student already has taught in private schools in Vermont and has tutored Santa Fe students the AVID college-readiness program.

“I’ve seen lots of problems with literary and math skills here, and I want to help,” she said.

Subscription Required

An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety. You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



You must login to view the full content on this page.

Thank you for reading 5 free articles on our site. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 5 free articles, or you can get complete access to the online edition for $2.49 a week. If you need help, please contact our office at 505-986-3010 You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 No Alias Commenters must use their real names.
  • 2 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 3 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. and please turn off caps lock.
  • 4 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Jennifer Bizzarro posted at 3:05 pm on Fri, Feb 21, 2014.

    Jennifer_Bizzarro Posts: 656

    Mr. Knolls,

    Maybe Ms. Watts just meant that she would not be joining Linda Trujillo and Hanna Skandera at Starbucks. [wink]

  • Jennifer Bizzarro posted at 3:01 pm on Fri, Feb 21, 2014.

    Jennifer_Bizzarro Posts: 656

    Mr. Salazar,

    I'm still waiting to check the "fact" you quoted earlier this week stating that Skandera's salary is mandated by state law. What "law" is that, sir?

    Ms. Moses was able to answer so quickly, yet you stated "law" at the beginning of this week and dodged the issue of its citation for three days.

    Could it be that such a law does not exist? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Cate Moses posted at 9:51 am on Fri, Feb 21, 2014.

    cate moses Posts: 149

    That's great, Pam, but the point is that this program removes all requirements for a degree in education and teaching experience. You have experience; that's great, you are the exception. Anyone with a bachelor's degree in anything can now be thrown into a classroom, with 8 weeks of training. SFPS prefers "teachers" with no experience, because they are cheap labor, and easier to bully and control. If you love teaching, you'll have a problem with that. This probably sounds like hyperbole to you. Wait 'til you are employed by SFPS (very different from being a volunteer) and have to deal with the daily avalanche of mandates, "data collection," and insults, the factory curriculum, the total control, and the all failures are due to teachers all test score gains are due to administration attitude. It's not pretty, and it's damn near impossible for anyone to flourish in this environment.

  • Pierce Knolls posted at 8:26 am on Fri, Feb 21, 2014.

    Mister Pierce Posts: 3202

    My wife was a pubic school teacher for years. I know it can be very rewarding, regardless of the modest pay. It can also be quite frustrating, especially if you let the administrative politics get to you. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope your students appreciate the all the hard work that you'll inevitably put into helping them learn and grow.

  • Pam Watts posted at 11:24 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    Pamelita Posts: 3

    I'm sorry, Pam Watts again. I know I should just let it go. But did I not just say that I have nearly 15 years of experience in education? I have taught at the elementary, middle, and high school level. And I have been working at Santa Fe High in the classroom for two years. The low salary and curriculum constrictions have kept me from becoming a full-time public school teacher before now, but seeing as I have been teaching for so long, and my mom was a public school teacher for 40 years, I do think that I have at least a little bit of an idea of what it entails. And I am quite confident that I can handle it, thank you very much.

    I also think that many of the other candidates for this program will be drawn from folks who also have experience teaching. (At least I would hope.) Anyway, I was working with a senior last year who couldn't pass the Math SBAs. We were doing very basic algebra and she said, "Miss, we haven't had a teacher who stayed in four years to teach us algebra." So that's why I want to become a public school teacher here. Because these kids deserve better than that.

  • Cate Moses posted at 9:56 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    cate moses Posts: 149

    SFPS, which can never "find" the money for teacher raises, is handing out 4k stipends like candy? How many of these unfortunates will still be around in even a few months? At 4k a pop (+ "the cost of the certificate and all professional-development training") and 100+ vacancies predicted, that's over half a million$.

    Ms. Watts and the others mo doubt have good intentions, but the notion that a nonteacher can be "trained to be a teacher" and "learn classroom management skills, how to implement a lesson plan and cultural sensitivity. . ." in 8 weeks is ludicrous--and it is insulting to the profession of teaching. Our kids will suffer, the new recruits will quit, and the Community College and the Academy for the Love of Learning will be laughing all the way to the bank.

    In Finland, which is often held up as the beacon of education success, teachers attend teachers' college for 5+ years. They also have total autonomy. Here at SFPS, they want warm bodies to "implement lesson plan[s]"-canned, scripted factory junk that's all about testing and not at all about learning.

  • oscar michael posted at 2:25 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    oscar mike Posts: 269

    Wow! 15 interested individuals to fill a 100 teacher deficit? How long will these poor saps stay employed when they hit the class and see the lack of discipline, lack of resources, and lack of administrative support in the Santa Fe public schools? Teachers don't stay in Santa Fe because it is too expensive to live on the meager salary that is doled out. They really start questioning their stay when they get assaulted in the classroom and the administration allows the kid to return the next day. All this and the regular stupidity of working for public education deters the return of qualified teachers. How do you think it will effect these newbies?

  • Pierce Knolls posted at 1:32 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    Mister Pierce Posts: 3202

    The 2014 federal poverty rate for a single person is $11,670, and $29,175 is 250% of the poverty rate, or 150% more than the poverty rate. A quick online search turns up "poverty-stricken" and "impoverished" as synonyms for "poor," but clearly $30,000 is 250% of the federal poverty rate, so I'm still not sure that salary level qualifies as "living poor."

    Oh, and the Living Wage in this town is $10.61 an hour, which adds up to $22,069 for someone who works forty hours a week for all fifty-two weeks a year, so $30,000 a year (with summers off) certainly meets the local legal definition of a "Living Wage."

    A teacher's salary is certainly modest. But it's not pauperizing, and it's more than the Living Wage.

  • Pam Watts posted at 12:55 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    Pamelita Posts: 3

    Woops. I was wrong about that. The federal poverty rate for 2014 for a single person is closer to $10,000/year. But 1) I don't think being paid the Federal Poverty Rate is traditionally considered a "Living Wage." 2) For comparison's sake, I'm pretty sure the yearly tuition at Santa Fe Prep is about $20,000. Cheers.

  • Pam Watts posted at 12:28 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    Pamelita Posts: 3

    Hi, Pam Watts here. First of all, I am not a college senior. I have a BA in Physics from an Ivy League school, and I am currently working on my Second Master's degree at St. John's. I have taught math and physics at two private schools, and I have been tutoring for nearly 15 years. I have also designed curriculum for multiple organizations, and I am published in the field of education.

    I am passionate about teaching and learning and I have been for many years. I have been working as a tutor at Santa Fe High, De Vargas Middle, and Capitol for the past two years. And while I never wanted to be a full-time public school teacher because of the pay and the constraints to teach to tests and, say, the Common Core, I have worked with enough students in this district who can't add fractions that I would like to become a teacher here in order to do something about that.

    For the record, I have a lot of student loans, and I could be making $90,000/year as an engineer right now to pay off those loans. And for a quick math lesson: $30,000/year is not 150% more than the federal poverty rate. It is 150% OF the federal poverty rate. That is a critical difference. The federal poverty rate is about $20,000 and this starting wage is 1/3 more than that. Which doesn't go very far in Santa Fe. But I am used to being poor.

  • Cate Moses posted at 12:11 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    cate moses Posts: 149

    It was announced by Boyd's administration at a school board meeting, not sure of date, perhaps 2 months ago. The newspapers picked it up and reported that number. I watched the board meeting online & heard it there. Three times the rate that could be expected based on recent years past was the way they put it.

  • Steve Salazar posted at 11:23 am on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    Steve Salazar Posts: 1888

    Where did you get that "fact" that teachers are leaving at three times the past rate since Boyd assumed the helm? I'd like to check that "fact."

  • Cate Moses posted at 10:56 am on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    cate moses Posts: 149

    It would be refreshing to see this newspaper print more than SFPS press releases as SFPS news. There is much more to this story. It seems that no attempt was made to discover or print alternative views or check facts. The elephant in the room is why are teachers leaving at three times the past rate since Boyd assumed the helm? Why is this pitched as good news?

    Bringing in nonteachers to replace the experienced, trained, licensed teachers with degrees in education that the Boyd administration is driving out in droves is not a creative local idea. It is an integral part of national school "reform" strategy--a failed strategy that has been around for 14 years now and that has all but gutted public education.

    In what other profession is it good news when professionals leave their jobs and the profession in droves? Would this newspaper be heralding a move to replace trained, licensed doctors with "nontraditional candidates" with no experience or education in the field who are willing to work for even less than the chronically underpaid professionals they are replacing? Architects? Engineers? Plumbers? Then why teachers?

    Boyd is now being sued for offering our most experienced teachers $500. to leave their jobs. He is wasting taxpayer $$ on bringing in non-experienced scabs, and he is crying continually that there is no money for a teacher raise.

  • Pierce Knolls posted at 10:27 am on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    Mister Pierce Posts: 3202

    “'I’m used to living poor,' Watts said."

    Thirty thousand dollars a year is 150% above the poverty level for a single person. A teacher making $30,000 a year could have an unemployed spouse and three kids and still be making more than the poverty level for a family of five, and they still get summer off and take long holiday breaks.

  • Elizabeth Pettus posted at 6:45 am on Thu, Feb 20, 2014.

    tfiner Posts: 99

    i think we should all feel grateful that dedicated people are wiling to participate in programs like this, and I also believe we should pay all classroom teachers a better wage, assuming we are telling the truth about caring what happens to children and the future.

  • Kathleen Tari posted at 8:37 pm on Wed, Feb 19, 2014.

    kamkat Posts: 7

    If you are a teacher in Santa Fe, you can't afford to send your own children to college. There is something fundamentally wrong with that fact.

    Why aren't current teachers offered summer stipends for professional development?


Follow The Santa Fe New Mexican

Click to read the digital edition of Pasatiempo

View an exact replica of the latest edition of Pasatiempo magazine.