New Mexican Governor to Use the National Guard to Teach Children

( – When you think of the National Guard, what comes to mind? Many may think of the National Guard as helpers in times of natural disasters, or assistants when it comes to domestic peacekeeping missions. Many part-time citizen-soldiers and airmen fought in missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, assisting active-duty personnel. During the pandemic, the National Guard’s role appears to be changing. It may no longer be just a part-time military force.

Whenever there is a workforce crisis, governors and President Joe Biden are turning to the National Guard. In December, President Biden assembled medical units and mobilized them to work in hospitals with depleted staff. Now, New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is asking Guard members to volunteer and serve as temporary school teachers.

It’s not likely that many Guardsmen signed up to teach children. Yet, that is now what’s happening as New Mexico struggles to find substitute teachers among skyrocketing teacher shortages. Approximately 50 National Guard members initially volunteered, and the state expects 50 more to follow soon. New Mexico is waiving licensing fees. New Mexico Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus says the lack of substitute teachers is one of the most critical issues facing the public school system.

In 2021, 40% of New Mexico school teachers retired during the height of the pandemic, creating around 1,000 vacancies. Additionally, school districts say they need an additional 900 substitute teachers.

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