Community groups call upon state to immediately release plan to overhaul education system

ALBUQUERQUE—As the New Mexico 2022 Legislative Session approaches, Transform Education NM urges the state to immediately release a comprehensive plan to comply with the Yazzie/Martinez ruling and mandates.

“As a former ELL student and a first generation graduate, I understand the vital role that opportunities, support and access play within the public school system,” said Cindy Nava, Executive Director of Transform Education NM. “Providing the necessary resources needed through a culturally competent lens can help create unprecedented pathways of success for our NM students. Our communities, familias, students, and educators deserve a seat at the decision making tables regardless of where they come from, or what language they speak.”

The full statement and signatories are below.

State must act immediately to overhaul education system

New Mexico’s children need and deserve a high-quality education that embraces their unique assets and gives them the best chance to succeed. Since the landmark 2018 Yazzie/Martinez court ruling that found the state is violating students’ constitutional right to a sufficient education, there has been much discussion of education reform, but three years since the ruling, only small incremental changes have been made.

The time for the state to overhaul our education system is now. Today. Ahora!

The pandemic has only worsened many existing shortfalls and inequities. Schools lack sufficient textbooks and access to high-speed technology. There’s still not enough tutoring, appropriate services and support for children with disabilities or adequate transportation. There’s not enough professional support for our teachers–and they are leaving in droves, creating a huge gap in classroom instruction.

Over 40,000 students are English Language Learners, but thousands of ELL students don’t have teachers with bilingual or TESOL endorsements. There are so few Native teachers that culturally and linguistically relevant instruction is severely impeded. Special education teachers, instructional support providers, and educational diagnosticians (especially bilingual ones) are also grievously scarce.

Worse still, there’s not enough mental and behavioral health support available through our schools. Students and their families continue to suffer greatly and have lost loved ones during the pandemic.

However, an unprecedented state budget surplus and new federal money can help us fundamentally change New Mexico’s public education system–changes that respect and celebrate our rich and diverse cultures and meet the specialized needs of students with disabilities. The revenue windfall should be used to implement and fully fund programs that truly help students succeed.

Yet just days away from the 2022 Legislative Session, the state still has not released a comprehensive plan to comply with the ruling and mandates. TENM calls upon the state to:

  • Immediately release the comprehensive education plan;
  • Revise the plan with Tribal and community partners in a meaningful process;
  • Clarify how the budget will be used to support and align with the plan;
  • Explain how the Public Education Department and Higher Education Department will collectively address teacher workforce issues and other needed major systemic reforms; and
  • Increase funding for Community Schools where parents, staff, students, Tribes, and community members have a stronger role in decision making.

For generations, the state has failed to address systemic racism in the school system. For generations, the state has failed to adequately fund our schools, especially those schools serving students of color. The current approach is not addressing existing inequities.

Planning is essential. We need to reimagine the system, and we need a concrete plan to achieve it. The solutions require innovative, creative, imaginative approaches with sufficient, targeted funding. The investment requires bold, decisive leadership.

These are challenging times. The issues and concerns surrounding public education are enormous. A piecemeal approach to fix our state’s broken education system is no longer acceptable. We ask our elected officials to begin making transformative changes on behalf of New Mexico’s children.

They deserve it.


  • Transform Education NM
  • Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute
  • Native American Budget & Policy Institute
  • Learning Alliance
  • Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP)
  • NEA-NM
  • Coalition for Majority
  • Dual Language NM
  • New Mexico Association for Bilingual Educators (NMABE)
  • Dual Language NM
  • Future Focused Education
  • CHI St. Josephs
  • Disability Rights NM
  • NM Voices for Children
  • Learning Action Buffet
  • La Semilla Food Center
  • Tribal Education Alliance
  • NM Center on Law and Poverty
  • Southern New Mexico Equity Forum