COVID-19 has laid bare critical shortcomings in New Mexico’s educational infrastructure. School closures, necessary to protect our health, impact every student in New Mexico, but because of systemic inequities in our system, for many families it is more difficult to endure. Too many of our students can’t participate in online classes because they lack reliable internet access, as do many rural and Tribal libraries. Too many students can’t easily pick up school lunches that many families depend on because their schools are so far away.
At this time, it’s important to emphasize equity for all students as a central factor in decision-making, now and in the future. We lament the lack of Chromebooks and internet connectivity statewide, a disparity that neither the NMPED, nor the districts alone can alleviate.
There will be haves and have-nots if on-line programs are required for all students. The four student groups who suffer the most from shortcomings in New Mexico’s educational infrastructure include rural students, Native American students, English Language Learners, and students who are differently abled. Many of these students are not able to benefit from the online resources NMPED and districts are offering.
It’s our hope New Mexico will resolve these issues in the long term, by listening closely to education experts working with students facing the deepest inequities and increasing support for those resources in the next legislative session. We look forward to working with Governor Lujan Grisham, NMPED, and legislators to ensure all New Mexico communities are better prepared in the future.