July 09, 2015

Lujan: Republican Education Bill Shortchanges New Mexico's Students and Schools

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District voted today against H.R. 5, House Republicans’ legislation reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  This legislation cuts more than $2.5 billion in education funding while removing protections for New Mexico’s most vulnerable students.

“We have the responsibility to ensure that every student, regardless of their zip code, has access to a quality education.  Our students deserve high expectations, adequate resources, and great teachers,” Congressman Luján said.  “Unfortunately, the plan offered by House Republicans does not meet this standard.  By allowing states to shift funding away from schools and districts with high levels of poverty, it fails to ensure that all children have the opportunity to succeed.  It also fails to make needed investments in our schools and in our teachers by freezing funding for the next six years, resulting in a $5 million cut for New Mexico next year.”

Luján voted for the Democratic alternative that supports disadvantaged student by restoring dedicated funding for at-risk students, English learners, and rural students.  It also requires states to set college and career-ready standards for math, science, and English language arts in grades K-12 to ensure students graduate high school without the need for remediation.  In addition, the plan supports teachers and principals by providing targeted professional development.  Unlike H.R. 5, the Democratic alternative promotes a well-rounded education by providing funding for states to address STEM, literacy, technology, and other subjects such as art, P.E. and foreign languages.

“We must invest in our children and our teachers if we want students to succeed and get ahead.  We need a robust curriculum that prepares students in the STEM fields that are an integral part of our nation’s competitiveness and the jobs of tomorrow.  The Democratic plan lays the foundation to achieve these important results,” added Luján.

During debate on the bill in February, Luján joined with a number of colleagues to introduce an amendment to address the poor conditions of schools in tribal communities.  The amendment passed unanimously, and makes it an official policy that the United States will ensure that Indian children do not attend school in buildings that are dilapidated or deteriorating.

“No child in New Mexico or anywhere in our great nation should be subjected to deplorable conditions in schools that are falling apart.  Sadly, too many school facilities in tribal communities face serious problems.” Luján said.  “These conditions negatively impact the ability of students to learn and are unacceptable.  All students deserve a safe and healthy environment in which to learn.  With many of these schools in some of our poorest areas, the urgency to address this problem is even greater.”

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