NM Needs A Better, Stable Way To Fund Public Education ”Albuquerque Journal

My entire professional career has been spent teaching linguistically and culturally different students and supporting other educators to provide New Mexico students with the best and fairest education possible. This goal, however, can never be achieved without some fundamental changes.

New Mexico needs to stabilize and increase funding for education. Educators are keenly aware of the rise and fall in funding our schools take as the oil and gas industry rises and falls, much like the pump jack used to extract oil. Institutional investors are pulling out of oil and gas stocks because they know these industries are in sustained decline right now as the world shifts consumption away from their products. New Mexico needs to do the same, and with so many people in our state who are personally dependent on these industries, it’s important that we develop other jobs here.

Fortunately, our state is making significant strides toward equity both in terms of updating our programs to better serve our diverse students, and also in providing more targeted funding where it’s needed most. These efforts are the same as President Biden’s efforts to “build back better,” and it is the struggle of our lives. These changes are great news, and yet we are still a long way from equity in our public education system, and we are not funding it enough. Even though recent successes are celebrated, no one should think the job is done.

Advocates for fairness and adequate public funding for our schools must sound the alarm now. Our state needs to come out of the oil and gas roller coaster by diversifying our economy and our revenue streams, and we need to keep fairness in mind as we do so. To continue to make progress in education in New Mexico, recent increases in funding and the possibility of more must be secured over the long term.

Anyone who cares about education, whether it is higher education, local schools K-12, early childhood, career or adult education, please Join with so many others in our communities in calling on policymakers to equitably diversify state revenues now to ensure a stable income, fiscally responsible flow of resources for our students.

Together we can prevent major cuts in education, as painfully happened last year – an increase has been wiped out altogether. We must work together and on behalf of each other to build a future for all of us. Much like our COVID challenge, our kids are watching. They are eager to learn, share and contribute to solutions for their future. Providing them with the tools and the ability to do so forces us to demand revenue increases from sources other than a declining industry.

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About Leslie Schwartz

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