The push to create a new education department is in the works. The Early Childhood Education and Care Department would focus on pre-kindergarten aged kids to lighten the load for the Public Education Department.
This bill is drawing lots of support. Four cabinet secretaries, including the PED secretary-designate and the lieutenant governor, all spoke in a committee hearing in favor of the idea, calling it a game changer.
“It has been years in the making and an opportunity that we have here in the state of New Mexico to really recreate how we can address the issues we are dealing with,” said Lt. Governor Howie Morales.
Senate Bill 22 would create the ECECD. It would focus on things like early childhood special education, pre-kindergarten, home visitation, early head start, and family support just to name a few.
The new department would move four early education sub-departments from different state departments under one roof. It’s all part of the greater push to expand and strengthen the state’s pre-K system.
“So the kiddos are ready to accept what the teachers are trying to teach them in the kindergarten class, which leads to better reading scores at third grade, better math and science at eighth grade, and we’re going to quash the dropout rate so the workforce will be prepared to go into higher education opportunities,” said Sen. Michael Padilla, (D) Albuquerque.
Sen. Padilla believes the new department would also save money by having all of the early childhood education administration staff under one roof.
Of course, the governor would get to appoint a secretary for this new body.
The bill has not passed any committees yet, it’s still being tweaked.