June 21, 2016

Six years of Skandera/Martinez “Bold Education Reform”, NM falls to last in education in US

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Five years after Susana Martinez and Hanna Skandera promised New Mexicans they would bring “bold education reform” (see the press release here) to New Mexico, the results are in.

In the 2016 Kids Count report released today by NM Voices for Children, New Mexico fell to the bottom of the list – 50th in the nation – in education and child poverty.

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For more than a decade, Voices for Children and the Annie E. Casey Foundation have tracked various social metrics measuring child wellbeing in every state in the country.

While child wellbeing rankings has improved slightly over the past decades, much of that progress has been outshined by other states who have made faster and more impactful progress than New Mexico.

Other issues, including access to healthcare, have improved thanks to Medicaid expansion, for example.

Education Reform
When it comes to education, however, the Martinez administration made improving national rankings a top priority for their administration and voters in 2010 gave her the chance to do just that.

Key reforms put into place were:

  • Transferring more money from school districts to the state’s Public Education Department for special projects
  • Expanding charter schools – giving public school dollars to private groups – to create virtual schools and “non-profit” schools run by for-profit corporations
  • Increasing student testing times, an agenda pushed by testing companies nationwide

The results are coming in.  In case you missed them, here are a few highlights:

New Mexico falls to last place for graduation rate | Albuquerque Journal (March 2016)

New Mexico student proficiency drops from 2010 – The Santa Fe New Mexican (August 2014)

NM still ranks first in the country in children living in poverty

From Voices for Children:

The single most significant indicator impacting child well-being continues to be New Mexico’s high child poverty rate, according to Dr. García. “Child poverty is the persistent problem that’s going to keep our state at the bottom of the rankings until we have the political will to address it in a comprehensive way,” she said. “When our kids aren’t doing well it’s because their families aren’t doing well. And when our families are struggling that means our state’s economy is struggling. Child poverty is a microcosm of a larger, systemic problem that drags down everyone’s quality of life. But it’s not likely to budge until we ensure that every family has the tools necessary to work their way out of poverty.”

You can see the full report at NMvoices.org

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