Santa Fe – House Republican Leader Jim Townsend (Artesia) today rolled out Republican backed transformative education policies designed to reverse historical deficiencies in New Mexico educational policy and funding. HJR 11, the Expanding Options for Educational Choice constitutional amendment, will empower students and families to have more options in educational choice. A second measure that will be filed today, is a House Bill that will allow voters to decide on breaking apart the state’s Public Education Department (PED) and create an elected Board of Education that would empower local control versus Santa Fe centered education policies. Additionally, Leader Townsend will file a House Memorial to direct the Legislative Education Study Committee to create a taskforce that would report back to the Legislature on potential rule changes necessary to enhance local school board control. 

“There is no baseline, positive nor negative, for what is going on in our schools and we are ultimately failing the next generation,” said House Republican Leader Jim Townsend (Artesia). “Decades of status quo educational policies have created an environment in which many New Mexicans are fearful of the future for our students post-graduation."

"This Governor simply cannot keep telling New Mexicans that throwing money at the problem is the solution- the Yazzie decision clearly revealed that our state has failed historically, and presently, in supporting at-risk students and families, and that the Public Education bureaucracy in Santa Fe cripples local school boards from being effective in building strategies tailored to their community’s needs.”

House Republican lawmakers contend that HJR 11, the Expanding Options for Educational Choice constitutional amendment, will align New Mexico with a national movement to empower working-families to make effective and critical learning decisions that align their students for success. This transformative funding model would create a student-centered finance formula in which New Mexico’s taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and prudently, especially targeted to support at-risk working-families.

Republican Leader Townsend continued, “Providing options for educational choice should be a priority for every New Mexican. At the beginning of COVID, many families sought opportunities to choose better options for their students and unfortunately only certain families had the means to do so- some of those families are legislators in this body. Our aim is to empower every family in New Mexico to have the ability to make important education decisions without feeling like the bureaucracy is limiting their student’s potential with poor policies and out-of-touch decision making.”

Breaking apart the Public Education Department would remove the hyper-politicization of the PED cabinet position and create an elected Board of Education that would better represent the needs of the varied communities across our state. Governor Susana Martinez had a PED cabinet secretary who was never confirmed by the Democrat-controlled Senate, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is currently on her third appointee to the position. The bureaucracy and partisan nature of the department and constant turnover of cabinet appointments have caused a chokehold in developing policies that transform education in New Mexico, which has consistently remained poorly ranked both regionally and in the nation. 

Townsend continued, “The bureaucracy of PED is an open secret. It is getting harder and harder to remember a time in which our education system was working, there are glimmers but those efforts are spurred on at the local level and often derailed by Santa Fe. By creating an elected Board of Education we can ensure that New Mexicans voices are not lost in the process of decision making. Empowering our communities to make appropriate decisions helps our students succeed across the state, instead of allowing the Santa Fe bureaucracy to create blanket policies that, for example, work in Albuquerque but fail to address the needs of our pueblo communities.”

All three transformational education measures are or will be co-sponsored by Republican Representatives once filed. More information can be found on Leader Townsend’s legislative page at https://www.nmlegis.gov/Members/Legislator?SponCode=HTOWJ. The PED breakup bill and memorial to create a taskforce to study enhanced local control are both attached to this release. 

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