Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico holds a burgeoning laundry list of confusing actions. After this week, she can add one more: militarizing a pool of substitute teachers in the public school system. Grisham recently announced the “Supporting Teachers and Families” (STAF) initiative. This somewhat alarming project aims to deploy 500 substitute teachers and daycare workers, and would see volunteer state employees – including soldiers, pencil pushers, and the boss-lady herself – in classrooms to teach the nearly defunct “three Rs” when necessary. Other states have brought in the National Guard for COVID testing and driving buses, but New Mexico will be the first to task soldiers with teaching.
Why Soldiers in the Classroom?
Gov. Grisham finds herself nearly as underwater as her president, Joe Biden, thanks to hurricane strength blowback from ill-thought-out policy moves. For example, school closings, mask mandates, and the demand that people get vaccinated have wreaked havoc on education in the Land of Enchantment.
Some saw the pandemic as the perfect time to retire. Even many in the prime of their careers see the ongoing COVID-19 scare as an opportunity to avoid the classroom. The beginning of the school year saw about 1,000 vacancies, and the state is looking for another 900 substitutes.
But is putting random state employees or soldiers into the mix the solution? Not everyone believes Grisham has a good grip on the problem at hand.
Your Kid Is Going to Boot Camp
The Republican Party of New Mexico (RPNM) is not too keen on Grisham’s handling of, well, anything. And it is pretty apparent the governor showing up to sub a class, let’s just say a civics class, makes the GOP folks cringe more than her usual antics. RPNM Executive Director Kim Skaggs stated:
“Once again, the governor isn’t putting New Mexico students first. Our children are now being taught by people who are not certified educators. You need quality teachers in our schools. Our education system remains the worst in the nation. This is an act of desperation and poor government leadership. New Mexico’s National Guard shouldn’t be put into this position. It’s unfair to them, and it’s unfair to our students.”
Skaggs went a bit further by tapping into the vanity of the governor: “As far as the Governor teaching in classrooms herself, it’s just a publicity stunt.” And Grisham does like a good stunt. After a Trump State of the Union speech, she plowed through drywall, whooping, “that’s what I think of Trump’s wall.” It was a ridiculous moment for New Mexicans.
State Republican House Minority Leader Jim Townsend calls it akin to a bait and switch move: “She wants to be a hero when her administration does something unusual … just to cover up her failure to put together a plan that works. They’re not teachers. That’s not what they were trained to do.”
The National Guard trains soldiers, not daycare workers and teachers. Its website reads: “The National Guard is a unique and essential element of the U.S. military. Founded in 1636 as a citizen force organized to protect families and towns from hostile attack …”
On a positive note, soldiers seem less likely to be pushovers! Perhaps K-12 kids will respect their new teachers and bad behaviors can be curbed. Another plus: Whether they know the course material or not, a building full of combat trained substitutes – armed or otherwise – is probably a much safer spot for kids than most public schools.
~ Read more from Sarah Cowgill.