40-year-old high school program may not last another year after governor vetoes funding
March 17, 2018 11:23 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – From better public speaking skills to building confidence in and out of the classroom, mock trial has played a major role in the lives of thousands of New Mexico students over the last 40 years.
But now the program could disappear after losing funding from the state. The New Mexico Legislature originally appropriated $100,000 to help fund the program sponsored by the Center for Civic Values, but Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed that line item. She said funding is generally provided by the attorney general.
Now students say they don't know if the program will make it another year.
"I like helping people who have been wrongfully accused of things," said Sitara Haynes, a Volcano Vista High School student who aspires to be a criminal defense attorney.
Haynes isn't in law school just yet, but through the mock trial program she's as close as she can be to reaching her dream.
She and her friends at Volcano Vista are competing in the state finals competition for mock trial.
"I think mock trial is a very important opportunity that gives students the tools to be well-spoken members of society in the future," said Hannah Smith, another VVHS student.
But the future of that very opportunity is now in jeopardy now that it doesn't have state funding behind it.
"We have a lot of volunteers. All the judges are volunteers, all the board is volunteers," said Lynda Latta from the Center for Civic Values. "Everybody that puts the program together are volunteers. We have one person who's a paid person who works throughout the year to make this happen."
Latta said the rest of the money goes to scholarships or funds travel for students in rural schools to get to competitions. Organizers say this is the second year the program has lost its state funding; last year they relied on fundraising and donations. They are currently working to apply for grant money.
Volcano Vista student Natalia Corwell said it was unfair that the money was being taken away, even if mock trial participants don't plan on becoming lawyers.
"I think it offers great opportunities to learn confidence, leadership and the ability to cooperate with others," Corwell said.
They're all qualities that they say will help New Mexico students succeed in the long run.
"It's disappointing…devastating is more like it," Latta said. "I mean, it's just devastating for us."
Updated: March 17, 2018 11:23 AM
Created: March 16, 2018 05:08 PM
Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved