An Albuquerque, New Mexico, teacher announced to her students via a TikTok video that she is quitting due to low pay.

After finalizing her level two license with the New Mexico Public Education Department, Mahalia Aponte started teaching eighth-grade social studies at Garfield Middle School in Albuquerque a few months into the school year.

“I started working there, fell in love with the position, was having a great time with the kids,” Aponte said. “I got my very first paycheck and immediately was concerned.”

In the now-viral TikTok video, Aponte said the Albuquerque Public Schools district prorated her salary from $51,000 to around $34,500 spread out over a 12-month period — leaving her with $400 more than her monthly rent.

Aponte posted a second TikTok video in which she emotionally shared she could not afford to live on her salary.

“I can’t run myself ragged working here all day and then working my second job all night just to make ends meet, every single day Monday through Friday, plus working on the weekends,” Aponte said. “I don’t have any time for myself. I don’t even have time to grade papers outside of class.”


The videos have created discussion regarding educators' pay. Aponte told KRQE she hopes being vocal about her experience can help other teachers better prepare and possibly change the district itself.