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Editorial: N.M. House Funding Education Status Quo

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Apparently the New Mexico Legislature’s House Education Committee believes the state’s education system is working just fine, thank you very much, and never mind those embarrassingly low reading and math proficiency levels and abysmal graduation rates.

Let’s just keep funding what we’re funding. In fact, let’s add to it.

How else to explain committee chairman Rep. Rick Miera and company rejecting funding for real education reforms, including $12 million to help ensure children can read in K-3, $5.5 million to help struggling schools and reward those that do well under the state’s new A-F school grading system, $2.5 million for a teacher evaluation and merit-pay system and $2.5 million for more frequent testing so teachers can intervene and make necessary adjustments?

Instead, the House committee opted to increase school funding by $93 million, with almost a third of that, $27 million, increasing employees’ take-home pay by covering their higher pension contributions. The rest funnels through the same funding formula that has local schools determining how to spend — or misspend — taxpayer money.

There is an argument to be made for local control. There’s also an argument to be made for not doing the same thing and expecting different results. Gov. Susana Martinez campaigned on education reform, and voters would like to see it happen. Her proposals at least have the potential to help our kids be better prepared for a global economy. Her asking why we would continue doing what clearly doesn’t work isn’t just a rhetorical question.

The House Education Committee is recommending handing almost $2.5 billion to schools next fiscal year, again with no mechanism to ensure accountability or improvement. As its proposal wends its way through the House and Senate, it needs to be amended to deliver results to our kids.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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