It is now up to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine the legality of New Mexico’s nearly 30-year practice of buying textbooks for all students, regardless of where they go to school.
Let’s hope the justices in D.C. agree with the judges on two lower state courts that all taxpayer dollars deserve respect, not just those that come from parents who send their children to public school. And hope they embrace the principle that all New Mexico property owners help fund the state’s 89 public school districts and charter schools with their tax dollars.
After all, the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund, which makes money off oil and natural gas leases, provides more than a half-billion dollars annually to beneficiaries including the state’s public schools. That fund and the resources that replenish it belong to all New Mexicans.
Just as residents who don’t have children in public schools still pay taxes to those schools for the greater public good, so do families who choose to put their children in private schools. Shouldn’t the latter at least get secular textbooks for their contribution? State district and appellate court judges agreed they should in New Mexico Association of Nonpublic Schools v. Moses.
Unfortunately, last year the New Mexico Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Edward Chavez, parted ways with the ruling that “the legislative intent in promoting the education of all school children in New Mexico deserves greater weight” than plaintiffs’ concern of where that education is happening.