Improving student outcomes is not as simple as throwing more dollars at education.
I’ve witnessed this firsthand in visiting 77 districts and hundreds of schools across New Mexico this past year and have celebrated the outstanding work that is happening in classrooms and schools across the state.
Just look at the progress we’ve seen since we raised the bar. Since 2015, 13,000 more students are on grade-level in reading and 11,000 more are doing math at grade level. Our Native American students have made unprecedented achievement gains in reading, up 8.2 percentage points. We also have more students than ever before graduating from high school, lower college remediation rates, and more students taking and passing AP exams so they can save money and earn college credit to further their education.
Unfortunately, state District Court Judge Sarah Singleton was late to the party and overlooked this progress. We’ve already responsibly increased education funding, and student improvement is on the rise. But special interest groups and the court have decided to ignore, or worse, disrespect, the remarkable achievements of our students and teachers in recent years in favor of advocating for more of the same – calling for more money without a clear, consistent plan that measures student progress.
I have seen right here in New Mexico that more targeted funding can make a difference in our students’ lives. In fact, I advocated for an additional $100 million this past legislative session, which included $60 million for teacher raises. Those investments were sound because they built upon programs that are proven to work, require consistent measurement of student progress, develop and reward great teachers, champion parental involvement and hold districts and schools accountable.
As educational leaders we must spend time in the field, learn from the great work happening, and focus on what is actually working for our students and families – then focus on those best practices. As a result of my time standing alongside students, families, teachers and school leaders, my educational advocacy focuses on what works, not on politics.