EDlection2018: New Mexico Voters Approve Bonds to Buy School Buses and Improve Schools and Libraries

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.

Voters in New Mexico approved three education-related bond measures that together will provide $150 million for improvements at state colleges, tribal schools and municipal libraries; new school buses and air conditioning for existing ones; and new books, electronics and broadband upgrades for K-12 public schools.

According to the New Mexico Secretary of State website, nearly 69 percent of voters backed Bond B to provide up to $12.87 million to improve public libraries and buy books and upgrade electronic equipment and broadband internet.

Also with 69 percent of the vote, they agreed to Bond C’s $6.1 million in new funding to purchase new school buses and equip school buses across the state with air conditioning.

And 66 percent backed Bond D and its $136.2 million for capital improvements at colleges, tribal schools and institutions such as New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, Santa Fe’s Indian School, the Institute for American Indian Arts and the state School for the Deaf. Santa Fe Community College also willreceive $5 million to plan infrastructure improvements and upgrades across the campus, including upgrades to cooling towers and alternative clean power generation sources.

But the New Mexico K-12 public school system needs other major improvements.

In July, a state judge ruled that New Mexico was violating the state’s constitution for years of failing students, particularly Latinos and Native Americans. The ruling stated that New Mexico has failed to provide its public schools with enough money to give students an adequate education.

The state has the lowest high school graduation rate in the country, and more than half of New Mexico’s juniors in public high schools cannot read on grade level. Last school year, the system enrolled nearly322,000 students.

In an effort to reverse those statistics, New Mexico five years ago introduced a new teacher evaluation system. In a report, the National Council on Teacher Quality said the system provides a more valid measure of teacher quality, helps all teachers improve by giving them precise feedback and has increased student achievement. The study said that between 2015 and 2018, 11,000 more students were on grade level in math and 13,000 more were reading on grade level — with Native American students improving their reading results more than any other group of students. The study noted that the gains could not be tied directly to the evaluation system without a controlled study.

Also, a majority of voters,70.75percent, favored a fourth bond – Bond A, for some $10.7 million to pay for construction and improvement of senior centers across the state.

For updated election results follow the Election Liveblog here.

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