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.

Will New Mexico’s kids lose their recess in favor of more standardized testing?

Have you heard?  Many schools across the country are looking at adding even more hours of standardized testing to the curriculum and, as a result, getting rid of recess. Could this terrible idea become a reality in New Mexico? If Hannah Skandera’s testing scheme in Florida is any indication, the answer might be yes.  

If you don’t know, Hannah Skandera was Jeb Bush’s head of education in Florida and currently is the Secretary-designate of Public Education in New Mexico. Skandera was responsible for implementing education changes in Florida (which largely revolve around over-testing students) and Susana Martinez recruited her to follow the Florida model here in New Mexico. 

New Mexico’s third graders already have to take 15 hours of standardized testing a year and now it looks likely that that testing regiment might lead to the cancellation of recess, if Florida’s model is any indication.

Early childhood amendment tabled | KRQE News 13

“It’s time to take it to the people who are affected by a lack of accessibility [and] affordability in high quality early childhood education,” said Peggy Lopez with People for the Kids. But it wasn’t enough to sway the panel, which voted 8-2 to table the constitutional amendment. Four Democrats, including Smith and the committee’s four Republicans voted in favor of stalling the bill, leaving just Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City and Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, opposed. Read the full story: Early childhood amendment tabled | KRQE News 13.