Hey Steve, Ya Just Lied Not “Clarified” Claiming to Support New Teachers

On Thursday, just half an hour after the AP published a story exposing Pearce’s evaluation plans, Pearce tweeted and posted on facebook saying “I enjoyed attending Belen’s 30th Annual New Educator’s luncheon to show my appreciation for teachers, principals, and support staff.”

At the same time, Pearce’s campaign posts clearly indicated that he was spending the day at events hundreds of miles away in San Juan County.

It took four days for Pearce to “clarify” that he’d lied and it was a staffer who’d attended the luncheon.

“Steve Pearce is running for the highest office in New Mexico, but this dishonesty isn’t acceptable from anyone and it’s just the latest sign he is unfit to lead. Pearce never misses an opportunity to insult educators and students; he’s on a destructive crusade for school vouchers and now he’s skipped this teacher’s event and lied about it,” said Marg Elliston, Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. “New Mexico educators, students, and families don’t want a governor who lies to them, they want an honest advocate like Michelle Lujan Grisham fighting for them everyday.”

This is just the latest instance of fraud in a decades-long record of Pearce claiming to support students and teachers while slashing funding, failing to support at-risk students, and pushing school vouchers against the will of NM educators, students, and families.

Pearce failed at risk students and fought to slash funding

  • 1997: Pearce voted against the at-risk student adjustment in the school funding formula. Only 10 members of the house voted against the bill which was eventually signed by the governor. This provides more support for schools serving more at-risk students. [HB 215 1997]
  • 1997: Pearce voted against the Education Appropriation Act in the New Mexico House. Only six members voted against the bill. The bill included $1.3b in public school support and some emergency appropriations. [HB 3 1997]
  • 1997: Pearce voted against teaching American Sign Language in NM Public Schools.  [ SJM 44 ,1997]
  • 1998: Pearce voted against a memorial requiring New Mexico’s education department to to develop a plan to honor the NM constitution and provide spanish proficient teachers. [ HJM 38 1998]
  • 1999: Pearce pushed a voucher plan that would have cut education funding by $300m. [Albuquerque Journal, 3/20/1999]
  • 2003: Pearce Supported Diverting Special Education Funds to Vouchers. In 2003, Pearce voted in favor of an amendment that would have diverted scarce special education dollars to unaccountable private school vouchers. The amendment was defeated 182-240. [HR 1350, Vote #151, 4/30/03]
  • In 2013, Pearce Voted for Partisan Education Bill Would Gut Public Education Funding by $1 Billion. In July 2013, Pearce voted for a Republican education bill that would gut public education and remove accountability measures. “The bill would freeze education spending at sequester rates instead of restoring federal dollars to pre-sequester levels, which means public schools would receive $1 billion less next year. […] Public education has largely been a bipartisan issue in Congress; Friday’svote was the first time that major legislation was moved on a party line vote. […] The bill would delete a provision known as “maintenance of effort,” which currently ensures that states use federal dollars in addition to, and not as a replacement for, state and local dollars to help low-income, minority, disabled students and English learners. […] The bill eliminates the current accountability system, called adequate yearly progress, which requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.” [Washington Post, 7/19/13] The bill passed 221-207. [HR 5, Vote #374, 7/19/13]
  • In 2015, Pearce Voted Against A Motion To Guarantee Continued Funding For The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. In July 2015, Pearce voted against a Democratic motion to recommit that “guarantees continued funding for IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act], including for students with autism and cognitive disabilities; and protects children with disabilities from abusive seclusion and restraint practices, which, according to the GAO, have resulted in severe injury and even death.” The motion failed, 185 to 244. [HR 5, Vote #422, 7/8/15; Democratic Leader – Motion To Recommit, 7/8/15]
  • In 2015, Pearce Voted Against Ensuring That Minority And Low-Income Students Are College-Ready. In July 2015, Pearce voted against an amendment to the Student Success Act that would determine, “that the enactment of this Act, and the amendments made by this Act, will not decrease the college and career readiness of students who are racial or ethnic minority, students with disabilities, English learners, and low-income student.” The amendment failed 189 to 241. [HR 5, Vote #418, 7/8/15]

77% of educators and 85% of top teachers oppose school vouchers…

…but Pearce apparently forgot to bring them to the table while aggressively pushing vouchers over two decades.

  • 1999: Pearce played a key role in efforts to hold education funding and the state budget hostage over school vouchers, trying to cut public school funding by $300 million. In 1999 Pearce voted against both the regular and special session appropriations bills in the NM House of Representatives. Pearce voted no on the regular session budget, which was vetoed by the governor in order to push a school voucher program. Senate Majority Leader Tim Jennings criticized the governor and allies saying that “a whole lot of people in New Mexico are going to find themselves in a world of hurt if the governor remains bent on saying there’s going to be no budget unless he gets his voucher program.” In the special session, the spending bill included funding for education priorities, including a 5.25% salary increase for public school teachers, 5% more for higher education, and $5m for early childhood literacy. Pearce again voted against the budget, which was signed by the governor, while pushing his own pilot school voucher program. According to the AP, “the bill would provide for 7,500 students from welfare-eligible families to get $3,100 to attend any public or private school.” The bill did not make it out of committee. Pearce had previously voted in favor of a full school voucher program, that would, according to the ABQ Journal, “have given vouchers to about 100,000 poor children in its first year at a potential cost of $300 million which would have come out of the state’s public schools budget.” During this entire fight, Pearce aligned himself with efforts Senate President Pro Tem Manny Aragon described as “at war with the public schools of the state of New Mexico.” [HB 4 1999 1st Special; HB21 1999 1st Special; AP, 3/12/1999; AP 5/13/1999; AP, 5/10/1999; AP, 5/22/1999; AP, 5/14/1999; AP, 3/20/1999; Albuquerque Journal, 3/20/1999]
  • 2003: Pearce Supported Diverting Special Education Funds to Vouchers. In 2003, Pearce voted in favor of an amendment that would have diverted scarce special education dollars to unaccountable private school vouchers. The amendment was defeated 182-240. [HR 1350, Vote #151, 4/30/03]
  • In 2011, Pearce Violated Republican Spending Rules to Support School Vouchers. In 2011, Pearce voted for a reauthorization and modification of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program which grants school vouchers to low-income D.C. students without offsetting the cost of the program through spending cuts. The legislation would authorize, from Fiscal Year 2012 through 2016, $20 million annually to reinstitute a school voucher program in the District and would also authorize an additional $40 million annually to assist District public and charter schools from fiscal 2012 to 2016. This funding was not offset by cutting spending elsewhere in the budget and would have violated the CutGo rule put in place by Republicans; they waved the rule for this bill. [CQ Today Online News, 3/30/11; Associated Press, 3/31/1] The bill passed 225-195. [HR 471, Vote #204, 3/30/11]
  • In 2015, Pearce Voted for D.C. Private School Voucher Program. In October 2015, Pearce voted for the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, a bill providing funds for a private school voucher program for K-12 students in the District of Columbia. “House Republicans approved a bill Wednesday to extend the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the only federally funded, private school voucher program for K-12 students, through 2021. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) authored the bill, which for the first time would require that some students with vouchers take the same standardized tests in math and reading administered to public school students in the District.” The bill passed, 240 to 191. [HR 10, Vote #559, 10/21/15; Washington Post, 10/21/15]
  • 2016: Pearce Voiced No Concern Over Trump’s Voucher Plans and Said He was “Excited to Work with the Trump Administration to Advance and Strengthen the Educational System in New Mexico.” According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, “U.S. Rep.Steve Pearce, a New Mexico Republican and a Trump supporter, didn’t voice any concerns about a voucher program. Whether Trump plans to “promote a greater choice in educational institutions or the advancement of STEM” — science, technology, engineering and math programs — ‘I am excited to work with the Trump Administration to advance and strengthen the educational system in New Mexico,’ Pearce said in an email.” [Santa Fe New Mexican, 11/26/16]

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