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Education success is in our grasp IF we want it

Editor’s note: The following are remarks, slightly edited, that the Santa Fe school board president Steven Carrillo delivered at a joint meeting of the state House and Senate Education Committees on Feb. 2.

Regarding planning for and funding public education, we are at a crossroads.

Steven Carrillo

Make no mistake about it. Our success here is not a “moonshot.” This is not building an atomic bomb or landing a man on the moon or curing cancer.

All of the tools, research and talent is right here in front of us. And it’s not about the money. Money finds worthy endeavors. Our success here is a moral decision and moral determination to do the right thing.

We, YOU, stand at a critical moment in time. Do we continue to choose mediocrity and underfunding as the norm? The Yazzie-Martinez court decision mandating more sources for public education says “NO.”

The governor says “Aim higher.” So let’s aim higher.

In this session, in THIS 60 days, we will demonstrate by our actions exactly who we are. And $500 million is NOT enough. We are underfunded by more than $340 million 10 years ago. To be innovators and leaders in public education, I would say you’re looking at $800 million. New teacher tiers with salaries of $45,000, $55,000 and $65,000 is a start. But in five years, let it be $60,000, $70,000 and $80,000, paying all of our teaching professionals AS professionals.

Of course, this constitutes a foundational and monumental change in the way we think about and fund public education. This may seem like a lot, but consider the results of building our education and economic future with three wheels when we needed four.

We must develop and implement highly competitive and selective higher education programs to attract our nation’s best potential educators; fund full-day universal pre-K and birth-to-4 supports and education; and develop 5-year and 10-year strategic plans with the overarching goal of New Mexico being in our nation’s top 10 for grad rates and core proficiencies.

This is all possible. Expensive and possible. Y’all know how to fund these things. We just have to WANT this. The ball is in your court.

What future for New Mexico are YOU willing to accept?

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