New Mexico’s 2021 Legislative Session has commenced. Just as Covid-19 has impacted every part of our lives, it has also impacted the Legislative session. Although this year’s session will be conducted virtually–with the public and advocates shut out of the Roundhouse-our commitment to fighting for an improved education system for our 330,000 students is stronger than ever before. We can’t do it alone. Are you ready to use your voice to advocate for our students?
Many of our students have been without access to in-person learning for over 10 months. This reality requires a direct and radical response. Our 2021 policy priorities are centered on one thing: ensuring New Mexico’s students get what they need and are front and center in Covid-19 recovery and response initiatives. I am excited to share our 2021 policy priorities with you today!
GUARANTEE QUALITY EDUCATION
Establish a civil right to a quality education for all New Mexico students.
We know that a quality education is a critical factor in the success of our students in society and the economy and yet, year after year, day after day, we continue to underserve many of our students. This year, we’ll be working to pass a Constitutional Amendment that will put it to the voters. It is time to guarantee that every student has the right to a high-quality education. Let’s make New Mexico the first state in the country to guarantee a quality education and protect it as a civil right. Senate Joint Resolution 17 is sponsored by Senator Harold Pope and was introduced on the Senate Floor yesterday.
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PROVIDE EDUCATION FUNDING TO FAMILIES
Provide education stimulus funding to low income New Mexico students.
We know that New Mexico families have endured tremendous hardship throughout Covid-19 and school closures. Over ten months ago they had to step in as their child’s primary education provider, with some even quitting their jobs so they could stay home and supervise remote learning. From quitting jobs or skipping shifts, to upgrading the internet and purchasing desks for home, our families have taken on extraordinary expenses while navigating learning from home. That’s why we are proposing that every New Mexico student who qualifies for free or reduced price lunch receives an Education Stimulus payment. We are proposing to allocate funds from the Education Reform Fund to provide $250 to each student receiving reduced-priced lunch and $400 for each student receiving free lunch.
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PROVIDE ACCESS TO RESOURCES FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS
Create funding for families whose students are not receiving in-person special education services.
In October of 2020, we polled parents to learn more about how learning from home was going. The most surprising result was that 73% of special education parents reported that their children were not receiving the services outlined in their child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). This year, we will work to create funding in each district that will be made available to the family of any special education student who does not have the option to receive in-person special education services. We are thrilled to partner with Representatives Rebecca Dow and Candie Sweetser on House Bill 213.
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PROTECT AND INCREASE ACCESS TO QUALITY CHARTER SCHOOLS
Work to ensure that New Mexico families have options that work for them.
If we have learned anything about education through the pandemic, it is that every student and family has unique needs. Every child deserves the opportunity to attend the school that is best for them. We will be relentless in our fight to make sure options are expanded, not constrained in the year ahead.
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Stay tuned for more information on our policy priorities. We will keep you updated on the progress of our policy proposals and provide opportunities for you to support them throughout the legislative process. Remember, the easiest way to get the most up-to-date information about legislative session is via our social media sites, so be sure to follow along on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram!
We stand ready to advocate for New Mexico students and families this legislative session. I hope you’ll join us!