AP NEWS

The Latest: House embraces multicultural education bills

March 1, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on public education proposals in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

7:00 p.m.

The New Mexico House of Representatives is embracing a package of bills designed to improve academic achievement among minority students and revitalize local linguistic and cultural traditions.

The House voted Thursday without opposition on two bills in the package of legislation. One would expand training for teachers of English as a second language and bilingual instructors. The other would enlist a network of existing teacher cooperatives to collaborate with local Native American tribes.

A vote also was scheduled late Thursday on a related bill to create new divisions at the Public Education Department to focus on multicultural education and Hispanic education.

Supporters of the bills say they respond to a court order to provide greater resources to the state’s troubled public school system. A district court judge says the state is failing to provide an adequate education to students from low-income and minority communities, especially children who speak Spanish or Native American languages at home.

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6:00 p.m.

Public education reforms that would raise teacher salaries, extend the school calendar and increase spending on students from low-income and minority families are headed toward a vote of the New Mexico state Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee endorsed the bipartisan bill on Thursday after nearly three hours of deliberations. A nearly identical bill in the House is still under committee review.

Lawmakers are confronting a court order to increase resources to school districts and widespread frustration with a troubled public education system.

Minimum salaries would increase roughly 11 percent to $40,000 for starting teachers and $60,000 for teachers with advanced credentials. About $120 million is set aside for a program that adds five weeks to the elementary school calendar.

A draft budget would increase education spending by over $480 million.