SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Debates on education continue Wednesday, February 1 at the Roundhouse. Today, legislators will debate bills including mandatory recess and spending accounts for ‘educational freedom.’

Fighting for recess

Think back to your school days. Are you one of the many whose favorite memories started on the playground?

There’s no shortage of research showing the benefits of giving kids recess. That’s why Senate Bill 137 aims to require 30 minutes of unstructured recess time for some New Mexico kids.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steven P. Neville (R-San Juan), would require playtime for kindergarten through third grade. The recess would not be counted towards the required hours of education.

If the idea sounds familiar, that’s because it came up during the 2022 legislative session. It didn’t pass then, but if it makes it through this time around, the recess requirements would go into effect for the 2023 – 2024 school year.

Education freedom accounts

During the 2022 gubernatorial election, there was a lot of talk about boosting student performance across the state. Some of the ideas circulating included giving parents more choice in how their children are educated.

Now, a bill lays out how that sort of idea might work. Senate Bill 109 would create “educational freedom accounts” that would allow parents to put public funds towards private schooling.

Sponsored by Sen. Craig W. Brandt (R-Sandoval), the bill would take state funds normally spent to send a student to public school and allow a parent to apply those funds towards a private school. Under the bill, parents could also use the funds for tutoring, textbook, fees for summer school, or other educational expenses.

To be eligible, students would have to be New Mexico residents. They also have to be eligible for public school enrollment and not yet have received a high school diploma.

In case you missed it: Debate over a lower voting age

State legislators are split over whether or not New Mexico should allow 16-year-olds to vote. House Bill 217 would do just that, lowering the age for voting in state, county, and city elections.

“We have kids that actually work and pay taxes and they don’t have a voice in their future,” says Rep. Christine Trujillo (D-Albuquerque). The bill would “make sure that their voice is heard.”

This isn’t the first time the idea has been floated in the Roundhouse. A 2022 voting bill aimed to let 16-year-olds vote, as well as addressing other voting-related topics. But ultimately, that bill stalled. For more on this year’s push to lower the voting age, check out this KRQE News 13 story.