SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – With more and more families leaving traditional public schools in recent years, a handful of Republican lawmakers are pushing to get more money for home-schooled kids and private schools. They said it’s very timely, now that many parents are pulling their kids from public schools where no in-person learning is being offered.

When the pandemic hit, a lot of parents moved their kids to homeschool, and the New Mexico Public Education Department said the number of students attending home school programs this year almost doubled to 15,000. “I’ve had more families this year saying that they need help with alternative education for our children this is not a pandemic bill this is a social equality and racial equality bill,” said Representative Rebecca Dow (R- Truth or Consequences).

In House Joint Resolution 7, it would change the state’s constitution to allow funding for public schools to go to parents of home school kids, private school students, and public school students who are doing remote learning during an epidemic. Backers of the idea said this is about school choice and social equality in education. “I want them to decide if they believe they have the right to choose for their families and for their children private schools, non-public schools in order to have their children get educational opportunities on their choice not based on the zip codes they live in,” said Rep. Dow.

Analysts note that if this proposed constitutional amendment passes and parents decide to homeschool their kids or send them to private schools, enrollment could drop at public schools, crippling budgets. The joint resolution is scheduled to be heard in a House committee on Thursday. As a joint resolution, the proposal would have to pass both chambers and then go on a statewide ballot for voters to decide.