Saving our kids from illiteracy
It is no secret that New Mexico’s education system is in desperate need of reform. The state’s high-school graduation rate ranks 49th in the country – only Nevada and the District of Columbia rank lower. Our kids deserve better; in fact, they deserve the best.
Last year, New Mexico spent $2.3 billion on K-12 education. That’s $11,000 per child. If throwing money at our education problems could fix them, they would be solved already. Money alone is not the answer.
To meaningfully improve K-12 education, we must spend resources wisely and couple targeted spending with commonsense education policy. If we are proactive and enact thoughtful reforms, we can dramatically improve education for New Mexico’s children.
The Limiting School Grade Promotion bill, which I have sponsored, is a bold first step toward improving our broken education system. The bill would end the destructive practice known as social promotion, which promotes children to the next grade level regardless of whether they have mastered the key skills of the previous grade.
A 2011 study conducted by Annie E. Casey Foundation noted that a student who can’t read at grade level in the 3rd grade is four times more likely to drop out of school before graduating from high school. Social promotion allows our kids to float aimlessly through the education system until they disappear into one of the cracks.
We have the responsibility to ensure that our kids are not being promoted to the fourth grade without the vital skill of reading. By ensuring that our kids can read, we give them a gift that opens up whole new worlds and allows them to excel inside and outside the classroom.
It is unconscionable to postpone improving our children’s education. I urge my colleagues in New Mexico’s Legislature to make a stand for our children. It is high time to end the status quo and send this legislation to the governor’s desk for signature before we adjourn this special session.
Espinoza, a Republican, represents District 59 in the N.M. House of Representatives.
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