We just sent this email out to all our members. Please follow the links below and contact your legislator NOW!
Today, a major piece of education legislation is being heard at the Roundhouse. HB 5 and companion bill SB 1, aim to make sweeping changes to the way public education is funding in New Mexico. These bills make significant strides toward improving our public education system particularly after years of our schools being neglected by those in power. However, there’s a serious problem with a piece of the bill, specifically the age cap under which someone in New Mexico is considered a public school student. This cap will directly hurt a vulnerable segment of our community’s population the most. These are individuals with limited options for support in getting their life on a path to success. These are student inmates and released inmates attending Gordon Bernell Charter School. There IS a solution. Rep. Christine Trujillo is sponsoring an amendment, the “ED for ALL – No Age Cap” amendment.
Eighty-six percent of the students attending classes at the Gordon Bernell Charter School are over the age of 21. That school has campuses across Albuquerque, but its most notable graduates are housed in the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center.
Gordon Bernell is just one of two schools doing this critical work in the whole country. It should be considered a feather in the cap of New Mexico education AND criminal justice reform efforts. It should be used as an example. It should not be in jeopardy of shutting its doors.
Some have said there are alternatives like online GED programs or that this school might be “grandfathered” in, but those programs are not compatible with an actual school like Gordon Bernell and the grandfather clause does NOT cover it either. The only option is a true amendment to lift the age cap. The “ED FOR ALL” amendment.
Earning a high school diploma is a major step in rehabilitation for people who’ve been incarcerated. The deck is often stacked against them in many ways, removing the opportunity for an education when they are investing in their future should be the last thing our lawmakers do, whether intended or not. If these bills are passed without an amendment, there is NO alternative plan in place to ensure access to education is there for these vulnerable students.
HB5 and SB1 are aimed at making the state a better place to be a student. But not all students fit into a mold of traditional 17-19 years old and graduating. And those who are most in need of those opportunities will be the most affected if these bills pass without amendment. We want to support this important legislation, but only if amended to do away with artificial age caps. Every student deserves an opportunity to succeed in New Mexico, no matter where they attend class.
ProgressNow New Mexico
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