Here are brief summaries of the bills we are working on during the 2023 legislative session, with links to our Action Center so you can easily contact your legislators and the governor about any of them:
- Optimize time for teaching and learning. House Bill 130 and House Bill 194 would increase the minimum number of instructional hours from 990 for elementary school and 1,080 for middle and high school to 1,140 for all students. HB 194 is the better option because it includes 80 hours of professional development time for teachers on top of the 1,140 hours. (HB 130 allows for up to 60 hours of the 1,140 to be used for teacher professional development and related activities.) Increasing learning time is supported by extensive research that shows that it is is one of the highest impact reforms we can implement to improve student achievement. Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor to express your support!
- Increase the training, transparency, and accountability of local school boards. We are advocating for House Bill 325, which would increase the training, transparency, and accountability 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!
- Maximize the amount of the state’s education budget that is spent in the classroom, rather than on school district central administration. We are advocating for Senate Bill 438 to help ensure that the big investments that the governor and legislature are making in our schools will actually reach students and teachers in the classroom. Our proposed legislation would prevent school districts larger than 2,000 students from adopting budgets that increase the growth of spending in school district central administrative offices faster than the growth of spending at the school site (on teachers, instructional aides, burses, coaches, principals, and school supplies). Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor to urge them to pass it!
- Ensure high-quality teacher preparation programs. We are advocating for House Bill 460, 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, as well as that not all faculty have strong backgrounds as classroom teachers themselves. This bill 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 upgrade faculty qualifications, curricula, and alignment of the different programs. Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor to urge them to pass it!
- Ensure small classes sizes. We are supporting House Bill 413, which lowers the caps on class size and creates tiers in which schools with higher populations of at-risk students have lower maximum class sizes. It also restricts the use of waivers to exceed those class sizes. Smaller class sizes allow teachers to provide more personalized instruction to every student, and also reduce teacher stress and burnout. The positive impacts of smaller classes are particularly important for the at-risk students who need the most support from the school system. Read more about this reform and email your legislators and the governor to urge them to pass it!
- Oppose efforts to weaken high school graduation requirements. We are urging legislators to strengthen House Bill 126, which proposes to overhaul high school graduation requirements. The good news is that the bill was amended in the House to 1) explicitly incorporate personal financial literacy into the government and economics course that is required for all high school students, and 2) require all high schools to offer standalone courses in financial literacy, world languages, career technical education, and other subjects, ensuring that students will not lose access to these important classes. We are still urging the legislature to strengthen the bill even further by keeping the number of required credits at 24, rather than reducing it to 22, and by ensuring that all students complete at least one class in a language other than English and in career technical education (e.g., training in careers like health care, film, teaching, and STEM fields). Read more about this issue and email your legislators and the governor about 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 supporting legislation sponsored that would elevate personal finance from an elective to a graduation requirement, including House Bill 279. Read more about this reform.
- Fund the Strategic Water Reserve. Senate Bill 167 is bipartisan legislation that proposes to appropriate $25 million to the Strategic Water Reserve, an innovative water management tool that can 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 support it!