Education Issues Dominate Media This Week
It’s been quite a week for education policy and politics in New Mexico…and it’s only Wednesday.
So far this week we’ve seen Santa Fe public school students stage walkouts in protest of high-stakes standardized tests, NM House Democrats attempt to amend the state budget proposal to include more local control of school funding, and yet another member of our federal congressional delegation throw their weight behind tapping the Permanent Fund for state early childhood education funding.
Look below to catch up on some of these stories. And stay tuned throughout the week (and throughout the legislative session). Something tells me these debates are just getting started.
Second Day of Student PARCC Protests
Students from Capital High School and Santa Fe High School conducted a second day of protests yesterday over the imminent implementation of more high-stakes testing (known as “PARCC,” Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). The Santa Fe New Mexican reports:
For the second day in a row, students from Capital High School and Santa Fe High School led protests against new state-mandated tests by staging walkouts from their campuses, and now some are threatening to boycott the exams, which are scheduled to begin next Monday.
Some 200 students descended upon the state Public Education Department building in Santa Fe to try to meet with Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera to voice their concerns about the PARCC exams.
Consensus on Early Childhood Education Funding
Every Democratic member of New Mexico’s congressional delegation has now publicly supported the idea of a constitutional amendment to tap our state’s $10 billion+ Land Grant Permanent Fund to fund early childhood education programs.
Udall backs early childhood education in address to legislature (NM Political Report)
Lujan delivers address to NM Legislature (Office of Rep. Ben Ray Lujan)
Heinrich: It’s time for a lasting impact on state’s economy (SF New Mexican)
And just today, Joe Monahan is reporting that Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham supports the amendment as well.
House Democrats Attempt to Amend Budget for More School Funding
Last night, the House debated (and eventually passed) a $6.2 billion budget. House Democrats offered a number of education-related amendments to the budget bill but all were defeated. Here’s the rundown of what happened last night from the Santa Fe New Mexican:
One of the Democrats’ changes aimed to undermine Republican-favored education initiatives by shifting control of nearly $14 million from the Public Education Department to local school districts. It also would have ended the practice of using standardized tests to evaluate teacher performance and assign letter grades to schools.
“If we keep local control away from our families and our kids, then we’re not being responsible,” said Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque. She pointed out that high school students in Santa Fe during the past two days have felt strongly enough about the amount of time spent on testing to leave school and protest.
Democratic House leader Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe also argued for increasing funding for the Legislative Lottery Scholarship, to 95 percent of tuition instead of the 85 percent recommended in the budget, undoing proposed cuts to public television and giving more money to colleges. The changes would have relied on savings from unfilled positions in departments and wouldn’t have affected the overall size of the budget.
Those amendments, along with another he proposed that would have increased funding to Native American programs by $4.3 million from reserves, were defeated.