Lujan Grisham names teachers union leaders to transition team on schools

December 2, 2018

SANTA FE ? Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday named several New Mexico teachers union leaders to a transition team tasked with reviewing the state’s Public Education Department.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who defeated Republican Steve Pearce in last month’s governor’s race, has vowed to overhaul some of outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez’s education initiatives that have been staunchly opposed by teachers unions.

Such policies include a teacher evaluation system that relies on standardized test scores ? and other criteria ? to gauge educators’ effectiveness and an A-F grading system for public schools.

In her Friday announcement, Lujan Grisham named 31 individuals to a transition team that will review the PED. Six of those 31 are teachers union officials, including National Education Association-New Mexico Executive Director Charles Bowyer, Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein and American Federation of Teachers-New Mexico President Stephanie Ly.

The individuals named Friday will work with transition committee co-chairs that were previously announced by Lujan Grisham to come up with recommendations for the governor-elect on how to improve state government operations.

The governor-elect’s transition director, Dominic Gabello, said teachers union officials have an important voice.

“These individuals represent nearly 80 percent of all public school employees in New Mexico,” Gabello said. “After eight years of being left out of the conversation, it is critical we listen to the perspectives of individuals inside our schools.”

In addition to public schools, Lujan Grisham, who received hefty campaign contributions from several labor unions during her run for governor, also announced expanded transition teams to review two other agencies ? the Higher Education Department and the Indian Affairs Department.

Several university presidents are among those named to the higher education review team, including Western New Mexico University President Joseph Shepard, Northern New Mexico College President Richard Bailey and Central New Mexico Community College President Kathy Winograd.

Lujan Grisham has not announced any Cabinet picks since winning the Nov. 6 general election. However, most Cabinet appointments are expected to be announced before she takes office Jan. 1.

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