Representative Jim Townsend
As the 2022 legislative session begins, lawmakers are going to be faced with a host of issues. No one needs to remember that New Mexico keeps landing at or near the bottom of every critical ranking to know that our state is in dire need of change.
From crime, health, economic opportunity, child welfare, and education, the progressive policymakers who run our state have failed to create a prosperous New Mexico. And once again, these same elected lawmakers will try to solve some of these growing problems rather than solving what we all know to be the main problem – a failing education system that is hurting our children and grandchildren while providing a bleak future. for our state.
How can we expect incomes to rise, crime to fall, and quality of life to improve when New Mexico’s K-12 public schools are last compared to every other state? We can not. But the solution for progressives is simply to pump more and more money into this broken system. In other words, we empty our savings account to continually paint and repair the walls of a house whose foundation is deteriorating; the house just needs to be rebuilt.
Nor have we acknowledged that our school funding formula, an idea intended to ensure equality in education across the state, has in fact resulted in the creation of major disparities in the quality of education. statewide. In too many cases, we lock low-income families into schools that have failed simply because of their address. Unfortunately, children in Albuquerque’s far northeast highlands have a much better learning experience than those in central Albuquerque or the South Valley.
The result of our inaction is more children not graduating or moving through the system, which means an entire generation is unprepared to enter the workforce or lacks the skills needed to go to university. This lack of hope for the future among our youth will undoubtedly lead to more crime and greater reliance on government assistance, perpetuating the cycle our state currently finds itself in.
The reality is that our broken public schools will never change if unions and progressive policymakers continue to be in charge. Instead, we need a new approach that will truly give parents the freedom to decide how their children will be educated. We need to end the practice of sending our education funds to schools with poor track records and allow parents to use those same public funds to make choices about their children’s education. During this session, we will propose a constitutional amendment to provide this choice. The people of New Mexico should decide whether we continue to fund a failing system or whether we should allow parents a range of educational options that best meet the needs of their children.
Nothing will change in our state until we truly commit to education reform based on choice and accountability. Until that happens, officials will continue to protect the current system at the expense of students and our future.
Representative Jim Townsend (R-Artesia) is the Republican leader of the New Mexico House.