Only 8 days remain in the 2023 Legislative Session! One of our priority bills is making considerable progress, and we are working hard to get it across the finish line. We continue to advocate against bills that we believe will negatively impact New Mexico students. Check out our latest update and please take action! Your voice matters and with only 8 days left, we need all the help we can get!
HB 481: ALIGN SCHOOL READING MATERIALS
Our literacy bill is our top priority this legislative session. HB 481, sponsored by Minority Floor Leader Ryan Lane, creates a new fund for districts to adopt high-quality instructional materials aligned with the science of reading. This would come at no cost to the district and ensure New Mexico students have the best resources available to learn to read.
Teaching our students to read is pivotal! 52% of New Mexico 4th graders scored “below basic” on the most recent NAEP assessment. What does that mean? It means that more than half of New Mexico 4th grade students do not have even a partial mastery of the reading skills required for their grade. This is a crisis and our bill is a part of the solution.
The bill passed the House Appropriations and Finance Committee last Friday and now awaits a vote on the House floor. We need your help to get it across the finish line! Please use our action alert here to email your representative and ask them to vote for HB 481.
SENATE BILL 24: SCHOOL REPORTING ON USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS
Unfortunately, SB 24 was tabled by the House Education Committee last Friday on a 7-6 vote. This vote comes just a few days after the bill passed the Senate on a 36-2 vote with strong bipartisan support. The bill would have ensured Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds were monitored, well-spent, and aligned toward improving student outcomes.
This is an unfortunate outcome. New Mexico still has $1 billion in unspent ESSER funds and only 19 months to spend it. It is imperative that we ensure the remaining funds are spent responsibly and in ways that will yield a positive impact on New Mexico students. We are disappointed that two years from now–when the federal funding runs out and the legislature is asked to backfill the funding with state money–we will have no record of how the money was spent nor what impact it had on our students.
We thank Senator Crystal Diamond for standing up for New Mexico students and sponsoring this legislation.
HB 130 – K-12 PLUS PROGRAM
HB 130 is an extended learning time proposal and would increase the minimum number of instructional hours from 990 for elementary school and 1,080 for middle and high school to 1,140 for all students. In addition, the bill would allow 60 hours of professional development to be counted as instructional time.
We believe extended learning is an important tool to recover from the impacts of Covid-19. We also believe instructional hours should only apply to hours in which all students are receiving instruction. Though we agree that quality professional development is vital to a thriving education system, we do not believe professional development hours should count as instructional time.
The bill passed the House of Representatives unanimously on Tuesday and will soon be heard by the Senate Finance Committee.
HOUSE BILL 126: SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
HB 126, which changes graduation requirements for students entering 9th grade in the ’24-’25 school year, passed the Senate Finance Committee last Wednesday. The bill awaits a vote on the Senate floor.
We oppose this bill as it removes courses that place New Mexico students on a strong path of success. The changes make course decisions very high stakes and may negatively impact the options our high school students have post graduation.
Email your Senator here and ask them to VOTE NO ON HB 126.
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 1 – STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
SJR 1 would establish a statewide school board and eliminate the cabinet position of Public Education Secretary. Under this proposal, voters would elect a state school board which in turn would hire a state Superintendent of Instruction.
As I stated in this KRQE news article, “politics should be out of education. But running 10 elections across the state of New Mexico – that will in many ways follow what we’ve seen in school board elections across the state and across the country that have become more political, more ugly, and caused more chaos at the local level – doing that at a state level, we don’t believe is the best way to remove politics from education.”
There are several concerning issues related to this proposal, which is sure to pass. New Mexico spends 45% of our state budget on education, handing that portion of the budget over to be administered and prioritized by an elected body is concerning. Additionally, New Mexico has made huge strides toward aligning our education systems from pre-K to higher ed. Removing the middle thirteen years from alignment/coordination with a governor’s Early Childhood Secretary and Secretary of Higher Education will likely create more frustration and confusion. Finally, the aspect we find most concerning is that we have literally done this before. In 2003 voters, Governor Richardson and the legislature decided that our old State Board of Education was not working, and instead opted to implement our current system. Why do we think it will be different this time?
SJR 1 passed the House Education Committee on Wednesday on a 9-2 vote. It now heads to the House floor for a vote where it is expected to pass. Get ready to vote on this ballot measure in 2024.
Phew, 8 days left. It is crunch time and we need everyone to lean in and help us make a difference for kids. Thank you for your attention to these issues and your advocacy!