Judge rules lack of sufficient education for all NM students violates constitutional rights | KOB 4
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Judge rules lack of sufficient education for all NM students violates constitutional rights

KOB.com Web Staff
July 23, 2018 04:13 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It's a ruling that could change the outlook of education in New Mexico.

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On Friday a state court ruled state officials are not providing all public school students with a sufficient education, violating the state Constitution.

Advocates claim the current system deprives low-income students, Native Americans and English learners of the proper resources to succeed. But state education officials argue classroom spending is more than adequate, pointing to new programs focused on helping struggling students.

According to the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, the state has until April to make necessary improvements.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, provided the following statement in light of the ruling:

“For too long, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and her administration have abandoned their responsibility to kids and public schools. This ruling confirms what parents and educators know—that New Mexico children are deprived of the essential resources, including qualified teachers and support staff, they need. This deprivation is especially severe for those at risk and in need of additional supports—English language learners, Native American students and those in poverty. The ruling also calls out the governor’s obsession with testing over teaching.

“In New Mexico, it would take $228 million to get public school funding to what it was before the Great Recession, and average teacher pay in the state is nearly 10 percent lower than what it was in 2009. We call on the state to use this ruling as a long-overdue opportunity to overhaul its broken school funding system to ensure all New Mexico children are afforded the public education they deserve and are entitled to. Voters will be going to the polls in November to elect leaders committed to investing in public education.”

AFT New Mexico President Stephanie Ly, meanwhile, said public educators in our state are privy every day to the effects of decreased funding for education and schools.

"We hope the incoming administration and the Legislature will use this ruling as a wake-up call to act on behalf of our students, their families, educators and the wellbeing of public education in our state," Ly said.

Steve Pearce, the Republican candidate for New Mexico governor, also submitted the following in response to the ruling: 

"This ruling underscores the importance of my plan to reform education. The old way is broken. Throwing more money at a broken system without reforming it won’t get the job done. As the judge said, we need to shift resources to those in need. We must empower teachers and the judge specifically agreed with my position to end the broken teacher testing system. We can and must get more resources to our teachers and classrooms so teachers can teach. We must fundamentally reform the bureaucracy so that it helps the very people in need, as the judge says. I am confident that with pro-teacher reforms, better management and some additional funds that I will win for our school kids and teachers, we can meet the judge’s ruling."

Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic candidate, said the following:

"Yesterday’s court decision reaffirms what families, educators, and school leaders have known all along: New Mexico students have been caught in the middle of an educational crisis that has left families behind. New Mexico's public education system is broken and underfunded – failing our children with punitive and counterproductive testing, underpaid educators, and a lack of investment in classrooms across the state. This educational crisis will be yet another challenge our next governor will inherit and one I am committed to addressing immediately.

"Investments in education are investments in safe communities and in the future economic success of our state. We cannot afford to shortchange the next generation of New Mexicans with a broken system that deprives them of the opportunity to succeed. When I am governor, education will be a top priority because every student deserves to start on a level playing field and to be given the tools to succeed in the classroom.

"My PreK and K- 12 education plan does just that. As governor, I'll give our educators a well-deserved raise, eliminate the PARCC exam in favor of less intrusive and more effective evaluations of student progress, and increase access to apprenticeships and technical programs to prepare our next generation for the jobs of the future. Let's fund the education system our children deserve instead of leaving them behind."

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KOB.com Web Staff

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