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Civil rights group plans to sue state over education

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A Latino civil rights organization plans to file a lawsuit today contending that Gov. Susana Martinez’s educational initiatives, including teacher evaluations and A-F school letter grades, undermine children’s right to a “sufficient” education.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said its suit also argues that New Mexico doesn’t provide adequate funding to educate poor students and students learning English.

A recent suit filed by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty against the state makes the same argument about failure to provide a “sufficient education,” as required in the state constitution, but it does not target the state’s education initiatives.

“In the first case of its kind, the plaintiffs challenge the State’s denial of their children’s constitutional right to a sufficient education through a series of State-created arbitrary obstacles, including the accountability grading system (and) the teacher evaluation system … ,” MALDEF said in a news release.

The Public Education Department, in response, said graduation rates for all students have risen in recent years, including among poor students and those learning English.

“We can’t comment on the case since it appears MALDEF felt the need to file a press release before an actual lawsuit. Their motivation seems very odd, and likely political, considering the academic gains of minority students across New Mexico in the last couple of years,” spokesman Larry Behrens said.

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