If the Legislature won’t let retired chemists teach chemistry to grade-school students, Gov. Susana Martinez won’t make it easier for physical therapy assistants to become principals.
That was the message the governor sent when she vetoed a bill that would have provided an alternative licensure path for certain professionals to become school administrators — including counselors, social workers, nurses, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, various therapists and therapy assistants, interpreters for the deaf, and diagnosticians.
Martinez wrote in Tuesday’s veto message that the legislation she nixed, which was sponsored by Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, was “not an idea without merit” and actually “doesn’t go nearly far enough.” But she expressed anger that lawmakers rejected other reforms, including a bill that would have allowed part-time, adjunct teachers in grades 7-12.
Martinez wrote that she was “offended” that the Legislature would allow a physical therapy assistant to become a principal but would block “a common-sense measure” to let a school district hire a retired chemist from Sandia National Laboratories to teach chemistry part-time at a high school that’s struggling to find good science teachers.
“It defies common sense, and reeks of petty union politics, to prevent qualified professionals in key fields from being able to teach subjects in their knowledge areas in schools that could use their expertise in the classroom,” Martinez wrote.
The governor also complained in her veto message about the Senate’s repeated rejection of her proposal to require retention of some third graders who can’t read a grade level. And she criticized the Senate for letting a bill die this year that would have required all school employees to New Mexico to undergo background checks with fingerprinting.
“… the stranglehold the status quo special interests have on some Senators has prevented floor votes on even the most compelling reform proposals and basic education legislation,” she wrote.
Charles Goodmacher, a spokesman for the National Education Association-New Mexico, said the union took no position on the legislation Martinez vetoed related to school administrator licensure. “We see some potential good from it, but also have concerns,” he said.
But he took issue with Martinez’s accusation about “petty union politics.”
“Students are at the center of all our members do in classrooms across New Mexico,” Goodmacher said.
When politicians who don’t work with students on a daily basis attack teachers’ unions, Goodmacher said, “they disrespect the teachers and others in the schools who everyday do all they can to increase the success of our students.”