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State Officials See Mixed Results In Education Reforms

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Kevin Meerschaert via Zoom
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New Mexico State Legislature
State legislators listen as education officials present findings of a report on outcomes of changes made due to the Martinez and Yazzie lawsuit.

A new report says despite over one-billion dollars in investments toward at-risk students in New Mexico, it’s unclear if the children targeted through the Martinez and Yazzie lawsuit are better off now than they were four years ago.  

In July 2018, Judge Sarah Singleton found the state had failed to meet its constitutional obligation to provide an adequate, sufficient education to at-risk students.  

The report was presented Thursday to a joint meeting of the legislative Indian Affairs and Education Study Committees. It states there have been some improvements in the past four years, but there is still a long way to go to reach the goals that were mandated in the lawsuit.

COVID has been a major hindrance in determining the outcomes.

Education Secretary Kurt Steinhouse says while the needle is moving, they are still having problems closing the achievement gap.  He says one issue that still needs to be addressed, particularly in rural and tribal areas, is better internet and computer access. 

“If you’re a student and you leave school and you go home and you don’t have a device and connectivity you can’t do your homework,” he said. “So it’s not just enough to provide connectivity in the schools, we’ve got to provide it at home and that’s the expectation from Judge Singleton.”      

Some schools have shown outstanding growth in achievement for at-risk students. Steinhouse says he’s been meeting with principals and teachers in those schools to see what can be duplicated across the state.

PED is working on a rewrite of the Martinez-Yazzie Action Plan. A draft is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.