CNN

New Mexico’s governor signs up to be volunteer substitute teacher amid staffing shortage

Jan 23, 2022, 7:11 PM

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs up to be a volunteer substitute teacher amid staffing ...

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs up to be a volunteer substitute teacher amid staffing shortage. Grisham here speaks at a news conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on July 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee, File)

(AP Photo/Morgan Lee, File)

(CNN) — Faced with a dire staffing shortage in schools, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has taken drastic measures.

The Democratic governor launched an initiative Wednesday asking state workers and National Guard members to become licensed volunteer substitute K-12 teachers and child care workers. Lujan Grisham has completed the registration to become licensed as a substitute teacher, her press secretary Nora Sackett confirmed to CNN.

The move is an effort to help fill staffing gaps and stave off closures across school districts and child care centers because of the rise in Omicron cases.

Volunteers will have to clear a mandatory background check, complete an online substitute teaching training, and then undergo a typical onboarding process done by the school where they’re placed. The new program speeds up approval of the licensing process to two days. Civil servants and Guard members who are currently involved in critical health care roles or administering vaccines are asked not to participate.

Lujan Grisham, who has no prior experience in education, expects to be placed in an elementary school next week, she told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on “Newsroom” Saturday.

She said her state was left with no choice but to ask for additional help from the public to get more substitute teachers in New Mexico’s schools.

“There aren’t any other options,” the governor said.

Should a New Mexico school district accept her offer to serve as a substitute, Lujan Grisham says she will donate her services and will not accept payment.

“We’ll have additional information about her placement this upcoming week,” Sackett told CNN. “This work will not require the Lt. Gov. to act as governor.”

The governor is among the 100 — 50 National Guard members and 50 state employees — who have so far signed up for the initiative, according to Lujan Grisham.

CNN has reached out to the New Mexico National Guard.

“The whole goal is certainly not to interrupt the qualified experienced work that is required in our public schools,” Lujan Grisham said on CNN, adding that the aim of the initiative is to “keep schools open and to support educators, parents, and students through the worst of Omicron.”

Since winter break, roughly 60 school districts and charter schools in New Mexico were forced to switch to remote-learning due to staff members testing positive for Covid-19 or having to isolate or quarantine under CDC recommendations, according to the governor’s office.

Also due to staffing shortages, 75 child care centers have partially or completely closed since the start of the year, according to the governor’s office.

Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez, whose school district has gone remote, said Wednesday that the initiative will be “instrumental” in helping continue or return to in-person learning and reduce “the stress on our remaining staff who have taken on additional duties.”

“This initiative will help create a stable school environment, as well as help parents who are having to juggle childcare and jobs,” MaryBeth Weeks, the head of New Mexico Parent Teacher Association, said in a statement.

New Mexico Republicans criticized the program and the governor in statements to CNN.

“Given that Lujan Grisham is on her third Education cabinet secretary appointee, it is no wonder that she cannot seem to find a way to keep our schools at full employment. This Governor has single-handedly made a school system that was already struggling, fall even further behind,” Republican state House Minority Leader Jim Townsend said.

Republican state Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca said in a statement: “What New Mexico needs right now is leadership—not political stunts. While we appreciate those willing to step in and teach, let’s call this ‘initiative’ what it really is—a desperate reaction to the crisis created by this governor.”

New Mexico is not the only state facing teacher shortages and implementing extraordinary measures to keep classrooms running, such as asking parents or alumni to become substitute teachers or dispatching office administrators.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

CNN

Former President Donald Trump walks on stage during the 2024 NRB International Christian Media Conv...

Fredreka Schouten, CNN

Wisconsin ethics panel recommends criminal prosecution for a Trump fundraising committee

A Wisconsin ethics panel is recommending that prosecutors pursue charges against one of Donald Trump’s fundraising arms.

20 hours ago

Police are investigating the scene at the University of Georgia in Athens where a nursing student w...

Rebekah Riess, Caroll Alvarado, Holly Yan and Jamiel Lynch, CNN

Suspect in death of Augusta University student found on UGA campus taken into custody

Campus police arrested a suspect in the killing of an Augusta University student on the University of Georgia campus in Athens.

21 hours ago

United Airlines aircrafts are parked at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey,...

Ross Levitt, Pete Muntean and Samantha Delouya, CNN

United to resume non-stop service from US to Israel

United Airlines said it will resume flights from the United States to Israel beginning in March.

3 days ago

Nasser hospital in the city of Khan Younis, Gaza, on December 22, 2020....

Kareem Khadder and Zeena Saifi, CNN

‘We are completely besieged’: One of last doctors left in Gaza’s Nasser hospital says patients’ fate no longer in his control

One of the doctors remaining in Gaza's Nasser hospital has described a “catastrophic” situation a week into the Israeli forces’ siege.

3 days ago

Members of the Palestinian civil defense extinguish a fire in a building in the east of Rafah, the ...

Richard Roth and Tara John, CNN

US proposes a ‘temporary ceasefire’ in Gaza in draft UN resolution

The United States has proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas

5 days ago

Exercise particularly reduced risk of death for women, according to the data....

Madeline Holcombe, CNN

Women might lower their risk for cardiovascular disease by twice the amount as men with exercise

The benefits of exercise are great for everyone – but may be even better for women, according to a new study.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

New Mexico’s governor signs up to be volunteer substitute teacher amid staffing shortage