Lawmakers approve Hispanic Education Act

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The proposal would establish a liaison within the PED who would focus on Hispanic students

By Susan M. Bryan

SANTA FE — Similar proposals aimed at closing an achievement gap for New Mexico Hispanic students, improving their high school graduation rates and getting more of them to college were approved Wednesday by state legislators.

The House passed the proposed Hispanic Education Act on a 44-25 vote. The proposal would establish a liaison within the Public Education Department who would focus on Hispanic students. It also would create an advisory council that would work with families and communities to close the gap.

The Public Education Department would also be required to submit an annual report on the statewide status of Hispanic education from preschool through high school.

The Senate approved a similar proposal 24-16. However, both chambers of the Legislature must pass the same version of a bill before it goes to the governor to be signed into law.

Gov. Bill Richardson and Public Education Secretary Veronica Garcia have been pushing for a state Hispanic Education Act, which state officials say would be the first of its kind in the country.

In New Mexico, Hispanic students score lower in reading and math than their white and Asian counterparts. Hispanic students’ graduation rate is about 56 percent, compared to a 71 percent graduation rate for white students.

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