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We are failing children

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Is New Mexico’s legislature happy with 49?

By Paul Gessing

When Gov. Martinez came into office back in January, among her top priorities was to turn New Mexico’s failing educational system around.
To say that it is “failing” sounds harsh, but it describes reality.
The problem is that, having had two opportunities to move towards fixing the problem, the legislature has thrown up roadblock after roadblock in a (so-far successful) attempt to keep the status quo in place.
First, the problem: According to the “Diplomas Count 2011” report from the Education Research Center, New Mexico’s real graduation rate is 57.1 percent.
This is 49 in the nation. Only Nevada has a lower rate. The results are similar on the respected National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a respected national test.
On the 2009 reading version of that test, New Mexico fourth graders again beat the scores of only one other state.  Some attribute these poor results solely to poverty.
While New Mexico is indeed a relatively impoverished state (it has the fifth-highest poverty rate in the nation, according to the Census Bureau), this is no excuse for poor educational outputs.
In fact, New Mexico’s graduation rate is more than 10 points lower than the other nine poorest states in the nation.


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