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House Education Committee Supports Extended School Time

Kids playing art work in front of Roundhouse
Kevin Meerschaert
Kids playing art work in front of Roundhouse

The bill that would extend instructional time in New Mexico schools to 1140 a year, up from the current 990 for elementary and 1080 for middle and high schools, was unanimously approved by the House Education Committee on Friday.     

The bill defines instructional hours as an hour in a school or other location during which students receive direct instruction aligned with academic content and performance standards from a teacher or other qualified instructor.

That time includes school programs, enrichment programs that focus on problem-solving and cognitive skills development.    

Content that provides technical knowledge, skills, and competency-based applied learning, research- or evidence-based social, emotional, or academic interventions and  Instruction that occurs at the same time breakfast is served or consumed in accordance with the after the bell program or federal requirements.

Legislative Education Study Committee Director Dr. Gwen Perea-Warniment says the bill includes the flexibility for school districts to create approaches best suited for their communities.

“I think what is critical…is how educators approach their classroom.” she said. “What is culturally relevant and responsive and culturally sustainable education should be broad and community driven. By defining an instructional hour this way it allows communities to do so as appropriate for themselves.”

Not everyone is happy with the bill. Several teachers spoke in opposition to the extended hours are not the panacea it's been regarded as. 

They worry about burn out for both teachers and students and say more emphasis on things like more counselors and social workers in the schools would be of greater benefit.      

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