Why does Kelly Fajardo keep voting against kids??

Republicans in New Mexico’s House of Representatives claim to put kids first but their actions show differently. Take Rep. Kelly Fajardo for example. Already during this legislative session she’s joined her fellow Republicans on multiple party-line votes against New Mexico’s schoolchildren. In a committee vote this week Fajardo voted against investing in early childhood education for New Mexico’s kids. With that vote, she stood against 66% of New Mexicans who support expanding early childhood services with our state’s permanent fund.

Udall & Heinrich to legislators: Pass the damn amendment

For as many years as anyone can remember, legislators come to the session promising to do something dynamic enough to make Mississippi jealous. That’s because each year, reports say that our children are last in child wellbeing, poverty or some combination of both. This year, New Mexico’s Senators are weighing in, urging their legislators back home to stop talking and start doing to fix the problem. In a letter released just minutes before the governor’s State of the State address, Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich published a letter to legislative leaders outlining their efforts on the federal level to help our children and asking state legislators to send a Constitutional Amendment to voters to open just 1% of the state’s $17 billion ($17,000,000,000) Land Grant Permanent Fund to provide early childhood education programs to every child, statewide. “New Mexico is at a critical juncture,” the Udall/Heinrich letter begins.

State: PED “erroneously reported” success with Gov’s keystone child reading initiative

The state’s bi-partisan budget analysts report that the State’s Public Education Department is fudging the numbers on the governor’s keystone early education program ahead of a request for more money in the upcoming year’s budget. When the Reads to Lead program was first launched in 2011, PED touted the $8.5 million expenditure as their keystone early education program and featured it prominently in its July 2012 PED newsletter, alongside pictures of Gov. Martinez reading to children at schools across New Mexico. She made it a central piece of her 2012 State of the State address, having appeared at 38 schools to read with students, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Last year, the department’s own report on the program (p.20) says, “since the implementation of Reads to Lead in 2012, approximately 6,000 educator, administrator, and reading coach participants have received professional development to assist struggling readers.” Those numbers have led PED to request larger and larger appropriations for the program each year.

The “Truth” hurts for Gov. Martinez

We’ve all seen the picturesque ads on billboards, TV, and in magazine pages. “New Mexico True” they say, with stunning sunsets and images of folks having the time of their lives at cultural events or recreating outside. But a group that works with New Mexico’s children has brought attention to the fact that New Mexico ranks 49th in the nation for child wellbeing, something hardly worth celebrating but equally “true” about the state (also, it’s something Governor Martinez has never even acknowledged). St. Joseph’s Children, a non-profit entity based in Albuquerque and affiliated with Catholic Health Initiatives, has launched an ad campaign that parodies the “New Mexico True” campaign with the tagline “New Mexico Truth.” The campaign has already created quite a stir with the ads.

Senator Martin Heinrich Addresses the #NMLEG

Did you miss US Senator Martin Heinrich’s address to a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature yesterday? We won’t fault you if you did — after all, the other addresses from our federal delegation came much earlier during the session. And a lot has happened since then. Heinrich’s speech touched on early childhood education, STEM jobs, poverty in New Mexico, economic development, federal lands transfers, and a host of other issues. But if you missed Sen. Heinrich’s speech, have no fear. Here it is in its entirety:
Distinguished members of the New Mexico Senate, the House of Representatives, Governor Martinez, Lieutenant Governor Sanchez, President Pro-Tem Papen, Speaker Tripp, tribal leaders, and honored guests: it is an honor to join you today.

What Happened in Santa Fe Last Week?

Last week was another busy one in Santa Fe, especially on the education front. Most of the most controversial and divisive bills from the Governor/House Republicans have now made their way through the House. So look for most of the action to switch over to the Senate in the final three weeks (!) of the session. As always, ProgressNow NM was at the Roundhouse everyday last week standing up for progressive issues and providing some of the best legislative coverage around. Look below for a recap of the top stories that came out of Santa Fe last week.

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.