New Mexico’s early child education needs expansion

December 30, 2018

Here are five steps to expand early child education:

u Create a state-level coordinator for collaboration and coordination of the organization and information silos of 33 programs scattered among 21 state and federal entities; require quarterly written progress briefs to the governor, legislators, the Legislative Finance Committee and state and local media.

Aside: If state-level coordination improves program efficiencies by just 1 percent, about $3 million could be shifted to educational credential evaluators. A state-level coordinator position and staff would cost less than one-third of that — it would pay for itself.

u Create a financial income/expense cash flow plan to support incremental expansion guided by availability of funding. Expanding incrementally is better than doing nothing; it is also more responsibly manageable (most recent proposals have been “all-or-nothing” and ended up mostly with closer to “nothing,” and the Land Grant Permanent Fund 12-year education reform expansion ended in 2017). A good plan design should support a state-level coordinator and the Legislative Finance Committee in evaluating costs and results of competing assumptions and expansion strategies.

And/or strategies: Double pre-K and early pre-K slots — how many more teachers, buildings and seats would be required and at what cost; double home visiting programs — how many more staff would be required and at what cost; what are realistic Educational Credential Evaluators professional workforce development targets and at what cost; improve existing local awareness, outreach and engagement and at what cost? How might these all best be coordinated and integrated over time?

u Commence growing the early childhood educators professional workforce.

u Commence cultivating and growing local engagement, outreach and capacities.

u Commence expanding programs to improve outcomes of three and four above with robust positive and negative feedback loops to support the state-level coordinator in coordination, collaboration and continual process improvement — all driven by funding availability.

Interestingly, such a plan was presented in the Spring to the Legislative Finance Committee and the Legislative Education Support Committee: Bellwether/Early Childhood Funders Plan and cash flow (amazing) estimator. To learn about the plan and estimator ,you can contact Katie Dry at the Santa Fe Community Foundation at kdry@santafecf.org. More about the New Mexico Early Childhood Funders Group can be found at www.nmecfg.org/about.html.

Is there anything else we should be waiting for?

Tom Miles lives in Albuquerque.

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