New Mexico Hispanic Education Act
On July 1, 2010, the Hispanic Education Act went into effect in New Mexico. The legislation, which aims to close the achievement gap for Hispanic students, has been called the first of its kind by New Mexico state officials. Originally two separate bills, HB 150 and SB 132 were reconciled and Governor Bill Richardson signed the final version into law on March 10, 2010. In New Mexico, nearly 56 percent of students are Hispanic. In the state, the high school graduation rate for white students is 71 percent, while the graduation rate for Hispanic students is 56 percent. The Hispanic Education Act is focused on improving the educational success and postsecondary attainment for the state's Hispanic students.
Primarily, the Hispanic Education Act pursues the following initiatives:
Establishes a "Hispanic Education Liaison" to focus on Hispanic education issues and policies. The liaison will contribute to the development of a "five-year strategic plan," meant to close the achievement gap for Hispanic students. The liaison will also serve as a resource for communities, encouraging the creation of "equitable and culturally relevant" learning environments and instructional materials, while also working to foster ethnic diversity on school district committees.
Creates the "Hispanic Education Advisory Council" to formally address the improvement of public schools and enhance community involvement and support for Hispanic education.
Requires an annual statewide Hispanic education status report. The report will examine the current educational opportunities for Hispanic students from preschool through college. The status report will include various measures of Hispanic student achievement, including: attendance rates, high school graduation rates, bilingual and multicultural programs, and college enrollment and completion rates.
No state appropriations were made for these initiatives. The Public Education Department will create the Hispanic Education Office and support the Hispanic Education Advisory Council with existing department employees and resources. The status report will have no fiscal implication for the Higher Education Department. According to the Department of Finance and Administration, the Hispanic Education Act is part of a larger initiative "Graduate New Mexico," which is funded with federal stimulus money.