By Mandi Torrez
To understand why students drop out of high school, researchers funded by the Gates Foundation hit upon a novel idea several years ago: why not just ask the dropouts?

So they did. Nearly half (47%) of the respondents reported dropping out because they were bored. Their top suggestion to help students stay: make school more engaging and enhance the connection between classroom and work. In other words, make the curriculum relevant.

Given that New Mexico’s graduation rate is more than 10% below the national average and that 40% of our students miss more than 10% of school days, it would be wise to listen and provide students with opportunities to learn real world skills. 

Core requirements in English, math, science, and social studies offer a solid foundation of knowledge that all students should have, but students also need opportunities to engage in learning that is both practical and motivating, setting them up for postsecondary success. Required courses should include:

  • Personal finance. A 2022 poll found that 89% of New Mexicans believed that completing a personal finance course is urgent for students. Twenty-three states – including six this year —  have passed legislation requiring a one-semester course focused on basics like budgeting, savings, credit scores, and investing. Every student will need these skills upon graduation, if not before.
  • Civics. Public schools should prepare students not just for college and career but also should empower them to participate in civic life.  
  • World language. New Mexico does not require a class in a language other than English even though bilingualism is a highly sought-after skill in today’s workforce. The Center on American Progress conducted a 2018 state by state comparison of graduation requirements and graded New Mexico as “deficient” in language requirements. Forty-nine state flagship universities require two years of language study, including UNM.    
  • Career and technical education (CTE). The U.S. Department of Education found that New Mexico high school students who take at least two CTE courses in a program area graduated at rates above 90%. Within CTE, students can explore everything from healthcare and film to teaching, journalism, and culinary arts while gaining skills relevant to their home and work lives.
  • Statistics and data analysis as an alternative to Algebra 2. New Mexico is one of only 11 states that requires Algebra 2 even though few adults use this knowledge. As recently as 2010, twenty states required Algebra 2, but many like Texas and Florida have abandoned the requirement. We agree with Senate Education Chairman Bill Soules that a more useful course would be statistics or data analysis, although Algebra 2 should still be offered in every high school.
  • Health and physical education. More than half of U.S. parents report having concerns with their child’s health and well-being. We can support students’ needs with at least one full credit of both.

Current state requirements include 24 total credits, which can be maintained by reducing the number of required electives from 7.5 to 4, still allowing students variety and flexibility to explore different careers or to follow a career pathway such as information technology, the arts, or health science.

Students should be provided with a well-rounded, comprehensive curriculum that exposes them to a diversity of subjects and gives them a strong foundation for life after high school.

If you agree, please visit  where you can easily contact the governor and your legislators and urge them to make New Mexico’s curriculum relevant and engaging while maintaining high standards.  

Mandi Torrez is Think New Mexico’s Education Reform Director and New Mexico’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option above this to the right, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a simpler option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. Send your information to and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

It has come to this editor's attention that people are sending information to the Grant County Beat Facebook page. Please be aware that the editor does not regularly monitor the page. If you have items you want to send to the editor, please send them to Thanks!

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—

Feel free to notify if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised.