School & District Management State of the States

New Mexico Governor Declares 2006 ‘Year of the Child’

By Laura Greifner — January 20, 2006 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Proclaiming 2006 “the year of the child,” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson called on the state legislature last week to improve and expand preschool programs, pass policies that help prepare students for college, and address the health of the state’s children.

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico opens the 2006 legislature with his Jan. 17 State of the State Address.

In the final year of his first term, the Democrat ticked off his proposals during his Jan. 17 State of the State Address, while also pointing to the progress he said the state has made during his tenure in improving teacher quality, raising teacher pay, and expanding pre-K opportunities.

The governor’s hopes are bolstered by projections that the state will have a $500 million budget surplus in the current fiscal year.

“It’s a very aggressive budget proposal and a very aggressive agenda,” said state Sen. Vernon D. Asbill, a Republican member of the education committee. He added that while the governor’s proposals were for the most part well received, he faulted the governor’s plan for not using some of the new revenue as a cushion against new taxes.

Read a complete transcript of Gov. Bill Richardson’s 2006 State of the State address. Posted by New Mexico’s Office of the Governor. .

“One disappointment was there was not money set aside to put into the permanent fund for the future of New Mexico,” the senator said.

Preschool Package

Adding that there is much room for improvement, the governor proposed doubling the annual state appropriation for prekindergarten, beginning in fiscal 2007, to $10 million a year, and adding $1.5 million in one-time spending for various items.

The extra aid would double preschool access for nearly 3,000 children. According to the New Mexico education department, the program could serve up to 12 percent of all 4-year-old children in the state, and would include, for the first time, funds for instructional materials and transportation.

Gov. Richardson’s plan also includes preschool funds for professional development, program evaluation, and technical assistance. In addition, new start-up funds would pay for developmentally appropriate equipment and safety improvements in 72 preschool classrooms, at an average cost of $20,000 per classroom.

He is also requesting $2.5 million for the education department for facilities and another $2.5 million for facilities through the Children, Youth, and Families Department.

To address the problem of overcrowded schools, the governor outlined a plan to build new schools in some of the state’s fastest-growing areas, such as Deming, Las Cruces, and Gadsden.

The plan would involve investing over $1 billion in “newer, better, and more modern schools” over the next four years, he said in his address.

And to improve teacher quality, the governor is calling for a 6 percent, across-the-board pay increase for teachers. In the 2003-04 school year, the average teacher salary in New Mexico was $38,469, compared with the national average of $46,597.

Test Changes

The governor also proposed replacing the state’s high school exit exam with a new one that would better prepare New Mexico high school students for college.

“To make sure New Mexico students are fully prepared, I call for a new commitment to match high school curricula with college-entrance exams,” said Mr. Richardson, who served as U.S. Secretary of Energy under President Clinton. “The tests to get out of high school should match the tests to get into college.”

He also asked the legislature to support appropriating $50 million for the fledgling College Affordability endowment, which would finance need-based scholarships for students who cannot afford tuition at state colleges and universities. The legislature approved the endowment last year, but did not fund it.

The health of New Mexico’s children was another focus of the governor’s speech.

“Physical activity and nutrition are also critical elements to keeping New Mexico’s children healthy and fit,” he said.

He proposed hiring 200 additional physical education teachers to support his goal of having every elementary student in the state receive physical education at least once a day.

A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2006 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion ‘This Is Not What We Signed Up For’: A Principal’s Plea for More Support
School leaders are playing the role of health-care experts, social workers, mask enforcers, and more. It’s taking a serious toll.
Kristen St. Germain
3 min read
Illustration of a professional woman walking a tightrope.
Laura Baker/Education Week and uzenzen/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Letter to the Editor Educators Must Look to History When They Advocate for Changes
Educators and policymakers must be aware of the history of ideas when making changes in education, says this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Letter to the Editor Reconsidering Causes of Principal Burnout
The state and federal governments are asking us to implement policies that often go against our beliefs, says this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Teachers Want Their Administrators to Teach. Here's Why
Principals and other education administrators should even be required to spend time teaching in the classroom, according to teachers responding to an EdWeek query.
Hayley Hardison
4 min read
Teacher Principal 11122021 1310106400
E+/Getty