Bill to change high school graduation requirements passes House

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SANTA FE, N.M. –  Just about every House lawmaker voted in favor of House Bill 126 Wednesday, but only after the bill’s sponsor made some important changes and clarifications.

Albuquerque state Representative – and high school teacher – G. Andrés Romero opened Wednesday’s floor debate on HB 126 by addressing some concerns with the proposal, specifically who those “minimum requirements” actually apply to.

“Part of the debate that we’ve had is a fear that if we do not include Algebra II, as a required class, that that class may go away for those that are seeking to enter higher education.”

That fear followed the proposal from committee to committee, and Romero saw the writing on the wall, so he decided to amend his bill before the floor debate.

“We’ve included that in, so that school districts will have to offer the credit of Algebra II, it can’t just go away,” said Romero.

Romero’s amendment makes a similar change to foreign language class requirements, and also incorporates ideas from Republicans – now including a personal finance literacy requirement.

“We’re changing the name in the bill of economics, to include a personal financial literacy into the name to reflect these changes in the social studies standards,” Romero said. 

The idea was actually suggested and shot down during the bill’s first committee meeting. It pushed Eddy and Lea County Rep. Cathrynn Brown to introduce her own bill requiring the course.

“By educating our students about how to do things well, be smart with their money, I think we’re going to start seeing a reduction in poverty,” said Brown. “And again, I want to thank you for specifically mentioning this and House Bill 126.”

Romero’s amendment convinced all but three lawmakers to vote yes on the bill – a sign many legislators understand the much-needed potential impact.

“By giving students more ownership over their educational career, I think they’re gonna be more motivated, and more interested to stay in class, and when that happens, of course, graduation rates will go up,” said House Minority Leader Ryan Lane. 

Almost every major school district KOB 4 heard from Wednesday supports the proposal.

An Albuquerque Public Schools spokesperson says they do not comment on pending legislation. We have not heard back from Rio Rancho Public Schools.

Track HB 126 during the legislative session.