New Mexico is a poor state. By most socio-economic measurements it is usually in the bottom 5 of the 50. It has the second highest poverty rate and is rated second-worst in America when it comes to child well-being.
When it comes to funding public education, and in NM, 96.5% of school spending comes from the State,on a per-student basis New Mexico is only 16th worst.
This does suggest both at least an aspiration for better education, not to mention a firm mandate in the state Constitution for budgeting public schools.
But the results don’t match. Part of that can be attributed to structural issues…the very high poverty rate, and the high rates of children born to very young women, often out of wedlock, high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, and a very high rate of students who need second-language help with English and reading.
But many parents and students, and outside evaluators say, New Mexico’s schools don’t always make the best use of the money they spend.
Dr. Veronica C. Garcia, Superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools, has extensive experience working in the policy arena in various capacities, including serving as Executive Director for NM Voices for Children, Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators, and New Mexico’s first Cabinet Secretary of Education. As Cabinet Secretary of Education, she advocated for the passage of many educational reforms including the state’s Pre-K Act, Hispanic Education Act, programs that extend the school year for at-risk children (K-3 Plus), and rigorous academic standards that were recognized nationally. Under her leadership, New Mexico garnered top rankings for school reform, accountability systems, increased teacher quality, data quality, health and wellness policies, parental involvement, and college and career readiness.
Her decades of work within the state’s K-12 education system has also included teaching in the classroom, serving as principal and regional superintendent in the Albuquerque Public Schools, and serving as associate superintendent and superintendent of the Santa Fe Public Schools. As the Superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools from 1999-2002, the District transformed a $2.6 million deficit into a $2.4 million cash balance.