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Bill would create early-education agency in New Mexico

December 18, 2018
New Mexico Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham, far right, announces her first Cabinet appointments, emphasizing efforts to expand the clean-energy economy in a state that relies heavily on oil and gas production for public spending during a news conference in the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, N.M. on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. Three of her cabinet picks, from left, Secretary-designate for D.F.A. Olivia Padilla-Jackson, Secretary-designate for Human Services Department, Dr. David Scrase. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators are considering the creation of a new state agency to oversee early childhood education and other services for preschool-aged children.

Democratic state Sen. Michael Padilla of Albuquerque on Tuesday announced a bill that would create a new Cabinet-level department focused on the needs of children before kindergarten including at-home intervention services.

Democratic Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned on pledges to provide universal access to preschool to better prepare children for elementary school and improve childhood wellbeing. Padilla says an Early Childhood Education and Care Department is needed to provide consistency and accountability to those efforts.

Lawmakers are confronting a court order to provide more public-education resources to help students from low-income and minority families. Padilla’s bill reserves an assistant-secretary position for a Native American community representative.

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