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EDlection2018: Michelle Lujan Grisham Will Be New Mexico’s Next Governor, Promises a Rollback of Her Predecessor’s Education Reforms

By Beth Hawkins | November 7, 2018

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EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

In a widely anticipated outcome, three-term Democratic Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham beat out Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce to win New Mexico’s governorship. Capturing 57 percent of the vote, Lujan Grisham commanded a 14-point lead over Pearce, who received 43 percent.

Though she succeeds a Latina, Lujan Grisham will be the first female Democratic Hispanic governor in the country.

The race is significant to K-12 education policy-watchers because outgoing governor Susana Martinez implemented a number of major reforms during her two terms in office. Lujan Grisham has vowed to change course as quickly as she can.

Over the summer, a state district court judge ruled that New Mexico students are trapped “in an inadequate system” – a decision which likely translates to a need for more funding. The Martinez administration appealed the ruling; Lujan Grisham said she will drop the appeal immediately.

Both Lujan Grisham and Pearce had promised swift action on the state’s controversial teacher evaluation policy, often called the toughest in the nation, and on the use of the PARCC, an annual assessment created to measure student mastery of the Common Core State Standards.

Both items are political footballs. Martinez’s Department of Education initially ordered 50 percent of teacher evaluations to be based on student growth on standardized assessments, but has changed the policy several times based on feedback from teachers. The resulting compromise system has been heralded as a factor in rising teacher effectiveness in several districts.

Lujan Grisham has also promised to boost starting teacher salaries from $36,000 a year to $40,000 and to tap a state land trust to pay for expanded access to early childhood education.

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EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

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