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Residents want more for kids

Recently, the Journal wrote about the closures that have plagued early learning programs for the last five years. The following day, the Journal released its poll, showing that 66 percent of New Mexicans support using revenue from the state’s land grand permanent fund to expand access to preschool programs and to improve their quality.

One-hundred and seventy-three early learning schools have shut down in the past five years. I was quoted in the Journal story because I am the administrator of Our Montessori School, which provides one of the highest-quality early educations in the state. Yet my school struggles to stay open because caring for and educating our youngest children is expensive.

It costs more than University of New Mexico tuition.

This is why we need to use $160 million in the permanent fund’s annual revenue to meet these costs.

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Where else could New Mexico possibly come up with this kind of funding? Right now, a majority of New Mexicans receive no early education. To think that we can reverse this on the cheap is ridiculous.

Believe me, New Mexico has tried.

The Martinez administration treats early learning providers differently from every other kind of business that contracts with the state. Construction companies and health care agencies make a reasonable profit when they do business with the state. Early educators lose money.

It is no wonder that New Mexico has seen a 14 percent drop in the number of early learning programs that are willing to contract with the state. They know that it actually hurts their businesses.

Of course, the greatest victims of these policies are New Mexico’s kids, who fall further behind other states the longer our Legislature denies us the opportunity to vote on the permanent fund constitutional amendment.

The Martinez administration may discriminate against the women business owners who provide the state’s children an early education. It can continue to pass up the opportunity to create hundreds of new teaching jobs by expanding access to preschool. But by continuing to oppose using revenue from the permanent fund to pay for early learning programs, the Martinez administration is hurting generations of children.

The Journal poll shows that our state overwhelmingly wants this solution. It is time for our elected leaders to get out of the way, and let us vote for our kids’ futures.

Roxanne Rosa is a board member of PEOPLE for the Kids.


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