The 2024 legislative session is underway, and we are working to enact more of the potentially transformative education reforms we proposed in our 2022 policy report, A Roadmap for Rethinking Public Education in New Mexico. Here are brief summaries of the bills we are currently working on, with links to our Action Center so you can easily contact your legislators and the governor about any of them:
- Upgrade the training and transparency of local school boards. We are advocating for Senate Bill 137, which would upgrade the training and transparency requirements of local school boards. A growing body of research has found that the decisions and actions of local school boards can positively impact the learning environment when school boards are focused on elevating student achievement. Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor to urge them to pass it!
- Reduce elementary school classes sizes. We are supporting House Bill 227 to phase in a cap of 20 students in grades K-6, one grade per year over six years. Smaller class sizes enhance the positive impacts of extended learning time by allowing teachers to spend more time with each student and provide more personalized instruction. They also reduce teacher stress and burnout, keeping more good teachers in the profession. Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor to urge them to pass it!
- Make personal finance a high school graduation requirement. Today, only 11% of students complete this course, but every student needs to learn essential skills like how to make a budget, open a bank account, save and invest for their futures, and avoid high-cost debt. We are urging lawmakers to include a one-semester class in financial literacy in the high school graduation requirements. Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor about it!
- Ensure high-quality teacher preparation programs. We are advocating for House Bill 256, which would set high standards for the state’s public colleges of education. The number of people completing traditional teacher training programs at New Mexico’s colleges of education has fallen by 75% over the past decade, and graduates report that the programs too often emphasize abstract theory over the practical, skills-based learning that is most valuable to future teachers. House Bill 256 would convert the final year of a four-year program into a teacher residency, a paid year-long experience in a classroom teaching alongside a master teacher. It would also ensure that they are offering evidence-based curricula that reflects the current best practices in areas like math and reading instruction. Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor to urge them to pass it!
- Improve school principal pay and training. Principal quality is the second most most important factor after teacher quality in student success, because good principals are the key to recruiting and retaining good teachers. Unfortunately, New Mexico is one of the ten worst states for principal retention, with principals remaining in their jobs for less than four years on average. Among the main reasons why principals leave their jobs are inadequate preparation and low salaries. House Bill 22 would ensure that incoming principals have access to residencies, where they have the opportunity to shadow an experienced principal for a year. It would also improve principal pay. Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor about it!
- Fund the Strategic Water Reserve. The Strategic Water Reserve is an innovative water management tool that Think New Mexico proposed and won passage of in 2005. It allows the state to buy and lease water rights to help keep our rivers flowing to meet the needs of endangered species and the state’s water delivery obligations under interstate compacts. Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor to ask them to fully fund it!