“New Mexico has fallen so far behind in public school performance—we rank last in the nation—that kids could use eight days a week in classes, never mind just five,” according to New Mexico Secretary of Education Dr. Arsenio Romero. New Mexico’s teachers union disagrees. The union opposes a new state rule requiring a 180-day school year. 

New Mexico’s NAEP scores are heartbreaking—87% of eighth-grade students are not proficient in math and 82% aren’t proficient readers, according to the Nation’s Report Card. State assessment results are also bleak. Yet, the president of the National Education Association – New Mexico, Mary Parr-Sánchez, claims that “There is a great majority of people that believe that (a 180-day school year) would not be in the best interest of children.” The union insists that requiring educators to teach students for 180 days will cause them to quit. 

Opponents of the state’s new 180-day school year also assert that it seizes control from local school boards, but the rule grants flexibility to the 47 rural districts with four-day school weeks and exemptions for districts with improvements in reading scores. Plus, a 180-day state requirement is common across the country. Of the 38 states that mandate the number of school days, 27 use a 180-day school year, with Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Illinois mandating more days. 

The union readily admits that New Mexico students are receiving a lousy education with “chronic absenteeism at 39 percent statewide, student math scores in decline, graduation rates staying stubbornly static, [and] relentless academic opportunity gaps remaining among student groups.” Mandating a 180-day school year will not magically solve the state’s distressing failure to educate students, but insisting that unionized adults work as short of a school year as possible ensures students will continue to suffer.

To learn more about how the teachers unions protect adults rather than students, listen to “Derrell Bradford: Should We Be Hostile to Teachers Unions?” and “Paul Zimmerman: Exposing the Teachers Unions.”

For more information about teachers unions, check out the IWF Education Freedom Center