Read the full plan for A New Direction for New Mexico Public Schools here
Under the Martinez administration, New Mexico schools have suffered from a lack of investment, failed leadership and a punitive testing-first evaluation system. We are failing our kids and need a new direction for our public education system.
As governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham will work with educators, schools, students, and their communities to build a Pre-K-through-grade-12 education system that works for every single student and family. With support and input from educators across the state, Michelle has developed an eleven-point plan that will get State Government to work improving New Mexico education the day she becomes governor. With these steps, New Mexico will build an education system that breaks through the challenges of intergenerational poverty, bolsters our economy by preparing kids for the 21st Century, and gives every New Mexico child the opportunity he or she deserves.
Fund the education system we need and our students deserve. Michelle will begin by working to adequately fund our education system with diverse revenue sources by passing a constitutional amendment to implement a responsible increase in the distribution from the Permanent School Fund to help fill funding gaps for Pre-K and K-12. We will put more money in classrooms by cutting overly burdensome regulations and streamlining administrative functions. New Mexico spends a higher portion of educational spending on administration than any other state. That will change.
Make universal access to high-quality Pre-K a reality for every New Mexico Family. Quality Pre-K is one of the best investments we can make in our future. By increasing distributions from our Permanent School Fund and bringing Pre-K in line with the school funding formula, we can make universal Pre-K a reality and secure its funding for the future. We also need to ensure that our early education is held to a high standard. Michelle will support training and recruitment of skilled educators with professional wages and make full-day instruction the norm so we can give every child the start they deserve.
Give our students 21st-century skills and enhance career technical education programs. Michelle will support adoption of rigorous competency-based Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) standards in classrooms across New Mexico and ensure that every student can access computer science instruction. She will also work to expand dual-degree technical programs, access to apprenticeships, and opportunities for students to develop the critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills needed in today’s economy.
Improve graduation rates. New Mexico’s graduation rates are 2nd worst in the country – only Washington DC is lower. The neglect of our education system is not only terrible for our children’s future, it hurts our economy and state budget, as earning a high school diploma increases annual earnings by $10,000. Michelle will increase funding for dropout coaches, fully fund K-3+ and other enrichment programs, and improve our early warning system in order to give every student the opportunity to graduate.
Pay our principals, teachers, and education personnel more. Our failure to fully support our teachers, principals, and all educators and educational staff in New Mexico has left us with a severe workforce shortage. Michelle will raise salaries across the board, including for education assistants and support staff, and set minimum pay at $40,000, $50,000, and $60,000 for tiers I, II, and III respectively. At the same time, we will attract and retain the most qualified new educators by improving preparation programs, providing mentoring, and supporting high-quality professional development.
Limit school testing and use qualitative data to track student and school achievement. Our students spend too much time testing and not enough time learning. Michelle will end use of the PARCC exam in favor of less intrusive and frequent alternatives, implement authentic and useful assessments developed by teachers to connect with what students are really learning, and reform school and teacher evaluations to focus on more holistic measures of progress.
Create a fair and balanced system of accountability. New Mexico’s current evaluation system does not effectively measure the impact that teachers and schools have on our students and discourages the best teachers from taking positions in challenging classrooms or schools where they are most needed. Michelle will work with teachers to improve the evaluation system by prioritizing professional growth, tracking students’ skills and competency, and supporting locally developed classroom performance measures.
Engage parents, communities, and students as substantive partners. Parental and family involvement in students’ education is consistently associated with higher achievement, better attendance, increased motivation, and better behavior. Michelle will work to engage communities by helping districts develop parental involvement plans, bringing families into school improvement processes, and expanding the community schools model across the state to integrate health, social services, and community development into our schools.
Make sure every student in public school has an equal opportunity to get ahead. Our education system is currently failing some of the most vulnerable students in New Mexico, including low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities. Michelle will ensure that we keep our commitment to a robust dual language education program across the state by maintaining all five dual language models, training more qualified teachers, and expanding uptake of these programs across the state. She will also ensure every student has meaningful opportunity in their district regardless of disability by supporting more 1:1 aides and educators trained in special education. Finally, Michelle will support our most vulnerable populations by targeting resources to schools that serve low-income and underserved communities.
Making sure that New Mexico’s American Indian populations are well-served. The current administration has failed to effectively serve New Mexico’s 35,000 American Indians enrolled in public schools. Michelle will ensure that we respect and uphold the Indian Education Act by pursuing specific improvement plans for American Indian populations and participating in government-to-government meetings. Further, she will support tribal autonomy and ensure these communities are well-served by recruiting and training more educators.
Preparing every student for success in college or a career. Too many kids are graduating high school without the skills and learning they need to succeed. Michelle will ensure that students are prepared for post-secondary education. She will work to align public school curricula with post-secondary requirements and expand GEAR UP and similar programs to make sure our high schools are teaching our kids what they need for the next step in their educations, be it university, community college or a technical program.