New Mexico’s constitution guarantees our children a sufficient education that prepares them for the rigors of college and the workforce. Our state laws also guarantee a culturally and linguistically relevant curriculum.
For decades, however, our state has starved our education system and failed to embrace the assets and cultural and linguistic diversity of our students. As a result of lack of support and systemic racism, 70 percent of New Mexico students are not reading or doing math at grade level.
In 2014, on behalf of families and school districts, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty brought a lawsuit against the state that was consolidated by a state district court with a similar case brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF). In July 2018, a state district court ruled in the consolidated Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico lawsuit that the state is violating the constitutional rights of our students and has not adequately invested in public education nor adopted the educational instruction and programs.
The court ordered the state to ensure opportunities for students to be college and career ready, and to fix deep inequities for low-income, Native American, English-language learners and students with disabilities.
The Center represents families and school districts in the Yazzie case, and litigation in the case continues. The State of New Mexico has not gone nearly far enough to comply with the court ruling. New Mexico school districts are still unable to provide programming and support students need like bilingual education and social services. In fact, many districts have been forced to cut basic programs and cannot meet the demand for pre-K programs.
Transform Education NM is a coalition of education, tribal, and community leaders advancing a new vision for our public education system. It advocates for a sufficient and equitable education system that honors and responds to the cultures, languages and heritages of our diverse student populations.
The Center has worked with the coalition to develop a platform for action to transform the education system. We provide policy support to the coalition and actively engage in community outreach with tribal communities, educators, students, school board associations, and other members of the public.