Lawmakers review bill to fix New Mexico’s education system

Politics - Government

After eight years of feuding with the last governor over education, the Democrats are back in power at the Roundhouse, and they have their own ideas for fixing our public schools. 

It was standing room only at the Senate education committee meeting Monday morning. There’s also a lot going into Senate Bill 1 — making funding changes, extending school time and raising teacher pay just to name a few items — and for the most part, the bill got a lot of praise. 

“As a principal, I love the bill. I love the aspects of what you’re trying to do as far as trying to move education forward,” Belen Principal Rodney Wright said.

The bi-partisan co-sponsors of Senate Bill 1 say this is not in response to a court ruling, which found New Mexico is failing to give at-risk students and minorities opportunities for a good education. But the bill does put emphasis on more funding for at-risk students, extending school time at struggling schools and raising teacher salaries.

However, the major pushback on this bill is coming from a proposed limit on charter school students. 

“Also the initiative is talking about students at-risk, and that’s what charter schools do. And a lot of charter schools are serving that population and help them, you know, pull them out of that place where they are and to be successful.”

The bill calls for a cap on charter school enrollment at 27,000. Right now, 26,000 kids go to New Mexico charter schools. 

It also calls for an age cap of 22 for charter school students. Currently, there is none, which had one lawmaker saying he does not feel comfortable with a 50-year-old man in the same classroom with kids. 

The Senate education committee will meet again on Wednesday to keep discussing the 48-page bill. 

The House has a similar version. 

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