Prekindergarten has been shown to enhance children’s language, math, and social skills, resulting in fewer behavioral problems and higher student achievement over the long term. This is especially critical considering that New Mexico’s student achievement ranks in the bottom tier of states, and more than 8,000 students drop out each year.
In the fall of 2000, Think New Mexico proposed a “third way” to improve schools, which focuses on decentralizing control to the individual school level and allowing members of school districts to choose to implement site-based management, in which the principal, parents, and teachers at each school would make decisions about curricula, hiring and firing, and budgets.
In October of 2004, Think New Mexico followed up its initial efforts by releasing a policy report describing how the state can pay for high quality, voluntary prekindergarten for every four-year-old in New Mexico, without raising taxes.
Think New Mexico proposes to pay for prekindergarten by cutting administrative spending in the state’s educational system. According to the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics, New Mexico spends only 55.9 cents of every education dollar on “instruction” – less than any other state.
Think New Mexico identified nearly $96 million of potential savings that could be realized by increasing cooperative purchasing, decreasing the number of administrators performing duplicative jobs, restructuring New Mexico’s largest and least efficient school districts, bringing the salaries of administrators more in line with other public employees, and streamlining the state Public Education Department.
During the 2005 legislative session, Think New Mexico’s staff assisted Governor Richardson and Lt. Governor Denish (Chair of New Mexico’s Children’s Cabinet) in their effort to pass a law that provides $5 million for a pilot prekindergarten program.
Read Think New Mexico’s opinion editorial on the benefits of prekindergarten • November 3, 2004
Read Think New Mexico’s opinion editorial on moving resources from administration to the classroom • February 24, 2003
Read Think New Mexico’s opinion editorial on school reform • February 16, 2001