FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TENM Applauds Tribal Leadership in the Passage of Native Language Educator Parity Bill

SANTA FE, NM – The New Mexico Legislature, in the final days before the end of the 2022 Regular Session, passed the TENM-endorsed HB 60, a critical initiative of the Tribal Remedy Framework that creates parity in compensation for Native language and culture teachers. HB 60 is directly connected to the landmark Yazzie/Martinez court ruling and is exceedingly important to making education more equitable for our Native American students in New Mexico.

“HB 60 brings an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that Native languages and cultures are uplifted and continue to transcend time through direct investments in Indigenous teachers who hold the inherent knowledge and are a direct reflection of our Native American communities. Our TENM coalition partners are honored to have had the opportunity to support this and other bills that reflect the need for equitable opportunities for education in New Mexico,” said Cindy Nava, TENM Executive Director. “We applaud the work and collaborative efforts of Representative Derrick Lente, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Benny Shendo, for helping to steward the bill in the Senate, the leaders of our New Mexico’s 23 Pueblos, Tribes, and Nations, the Tribal Education Alliance, and the many allies and supporters who invested their time and dedication to ensuring the passage of this historical piece of legislation.”

Representative Derrick Lente is a member of Sandia Pueblo and Senator Benny Shendo is a member of Jemez Pueblo.

HB 60 requires school districts to pay Native language and culture teachers the same minimum salary as level 1 licensed teachers. Currently, pay for Native language teachers varies greatly among districts, and is often extremely lower than other teachers’ pay who have similar duties.

Native language teachers are credentialed as 520 certificate holders, a unique credential gained through experience and traditional practices, recognizing the urgent need for sustaining Native language and cultures. All Indigenous languages spoken in New Mexico are recognized as endangered and vulnerable, reflecting the need to improve Native students’ access to culturally and linguistically relevant curriculum. Currently there are over 100 Native language teachers working as classroom instructors.

HB 60 received unanimous, bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and following the end of the Legislative Session, is now headed to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk.