Prioritizing Students: The Path to Improved Education in New Mexico

In a recent proposal, the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) outlined three proposed rule changes. At OAK NM we cared (and opposed) two of those proposals. I am pleased to let you know that neither proposal was adopted by PED…..yet.

One proposal was for PED to expand its control over district calendars, the other involved taking over the accreditation process, including the process for non-public schools.

OAK and numerous education organizations (and predominantly rural) school districts opposed the modifications in calendars. Groups representing various sectors such as public schools, charter schools, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools, private schools, accrediting bodies, and education associations, have voiced strong disapproval of the proposed changes. Over 3,000 written comments expressing concerns have been submitted to the PED, indicating a widespread perception of PED overreach, a belief that these rule changes undermine the original legislative intent, and that ultimately the rule changes will not improve student outcomes.

While educators remain hopeful that the remaining rule changes are no longer being reconsidered by the PED, the law provides the department with a two-year window to implement the rules without additional public comments or hearings. This fact has intensified worries among opponents of the PED proposed power shift.

The second revision with which OAK NM was concerned was PED’s “power play” to place itself in the role of authorizing non-public schools. Authorizers create standards under which their member schools must operate. If adopted by PED this rule would have made PED all-powerful over these schools. In a state that is often hostile to its non-public schools and provides no financial support for them, this would be a step towards making business very difficult for non-public schools.

These proposed rule changes have elicited strong opposition from educational organizations due to concerns of overreach and a perceived undermining of legislative intent. To address these concerns, the PED must go beyond revising the language of the rules and engage in meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders.