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

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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

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 L.A. Unified to Require Testing of Students, Staff Regardless of Vaccination Status
The policy change in the nation's second-largest school district comes amid rising coronavirus cases, largely blamed on the Delta variant.
Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
4 min read
L.A. schools interim Sup Megan K. Reilly visits Fairfax High School's "Field Day" event to launch the Ready Set volunteer recruitment campaign to highlight the nationwide need for mentors and tutors, to prepare the country's public education students for the upcoming school year. The event coincides with National Summer Learning Week, where U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is highlighting the importance of re-engaging students and building excitement around returning to in-person learning this fall. high school, with interim LAUSD superintendent and others. Fairfax High School on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA.
In this July 14, 2021, photo, Los Angeles Unified School District interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly speaks at an event at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. Reilly announced a new district policy Thursday requiring all students and employees of the Los Angeles school district to take weekly coronavirus tests regardless of their vaccination status.
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via TNS
School & District Management Why School Boards Are Now Hot Spots for Nasty Politics
Nationalized politics, shifts in local news coverage, and the rise of social media are turning school board meetings into slug fests.
11 min read
Collage of people yelling, praying, and masked in a board room.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion The Six Leadership Lessons I Learned From the Pandemic
These guiding principles can help leaders prepare for another challenging year—and any future crises to come.
David Vroonland
3 min read
A hand about to touch a phone.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion When the National Education Debate Is Too Noisy, Look Local
A local network of your peers can offer not just practical advice, but an emotional safe harbor.
Christian M. Elkington
2 min read
A team of workmen on scaffolding rely on each other.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images