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NM’s kids deserve a better shot

Education reform is a must, and there needs to be a clear goal: a strong and bright future for the State of New Mexico. At the center of this goal is our children and making sure they receive the best education possible.

It is a fact that the same policies from the past 50 years get us nowhere. Our kids haven’t been getting what they deserve because the same playbook calls for blindly throwing money at a problem or simply passing the buck onto someone else.

For example, just six years ago, 99 percent of our teachers were being rated as effective, yet schools were at the bottom of every ranking imaginable. Education spending went up and up, but tax dollars were financing red tape and more bureaucrats instead of initiatives to promote strong education.

With Gov. Susana Martinez, we began to turn things around. To start, we directed spending directly into the classroom to promote accountability and results.

One major focus was creating programs and initiatives focused on literacy – because, when a child learns to read, for the rest of their life they are reading to learn.

This past legislative session, we voted to increase funding to K-3 Plus, as well as expand reading initiatives like “Reads to Lead” to even more schools across the state.

Another top priority is to end the old, failed policy of social promotion. As a state, we cannot just pass the buck when it comes to students who struggle or fall behind.

If a child is not learning and not succeeding, we wrongly pass them on to the next grade. They are socially promoted and, for years, that has always been the case. We are told this puts them in the same grade as their peers and they will be better for it.

At the same time, social promotion creates an environment where struggling kids don’t actually learn the material they need to go on to the next grade. A socially promoted third-grader doesn’t grasp the material and knowledge needed to succeed in the fourth grade, and so on.

So what happens? They get tired, they give up and they don’t learn.

Retention is a last resort; instead, with resources and initiatives designed to help kids who struggle early on, we identify problem areas and work to address them.

At the end of the day, we want to end a failed mentality concerning education. Social promotion is saying some kids can’t learn, won’t learn, so pass the buck.

Republicans in the House and Senate have worked with the governor and even some Democrats to bring this failed approach to an end.

We know that the two parties can agree on this issue. Democrat and Republican lawmakers favored ending social promotion before. On top of that, recent polling shows an overwhelming majority of New Mexico supports repeal.

In the past, prominent Democrats like President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton have also called social promotion a failed education policy.

We should have a debate and we should have a vote.

Let’s do what is right for our kids, continue to focus on helping those who struggle and create a better environment so all of New Mexico’s children can be this bright future that they deserve to be.

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