New Mexico hiring Mexico teachers
Associated Press
Oct. 18, 2004

SANTA FE - Mexican bilingual teachers will be allowed to teach in New Mexico's public schools for three years under an agreement reached by New Mexico and Mexico.

"Having teachers from Mexico is extremely important because so many students here come from Chihuahua and other Mexican states," said Polly Beckmon, an English-as-a-second-language teacher who advises the bilingual program at a Santa Fe school.

The memorandum of understanding was signed Friday by Gov. Bill Richardson, New Mexico Education Secretary Veronica Garcia and Mexican officials.

The teachers would have to return to Mexico to teach for at least two years after they finish their work in New Mexico.

The state would not help pay for transportation costs.

Individual school districts will pay the salaries of Mexican teachers, Garcia said.

New Mexico education officials started working on the deal in November 2001 to address the shortage of bilingual teachers, Garcia said.

The state cleared up licensing problems with Mexico about a year ago, said Willie Brown, state Public Education Department attorney.

The Mexican teachers will teach mathematics, science, humanities, history, Spanish and special education, the memo says. They will teach all grade levels.

Richardson said the state has had Mexican teacher-exchange programs at the college level, but this will be the first time the state has had a program for kindergarten through high school.

The program also illustrates a commitment to expanding ties with Mexico, he said.

Mexican consulate Juan Manuel Solana said New Mexico is the second state to bring in bilingual teachers. He said about 80 such teachers work in California.