UNITED STATES NEWS

New Mexico ranks last when it comes to education. Will a mandatory 180 days in the classroom help?

Mar 7, 2024, 2:03 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has adopted a new rule mandating that school calendars consist of at least 180 days, with top state officials saying Thursday that the goal is to get students more learning time in the classroom and improve academic outcomes.

Public Education Secretary Arsenio Romero told reporters the change is just one of many things his agency is implementing as it works to pull New Mexico up from the bottom of national education rankings. He pointed to structured literacy programs in kindergarten and earlier grades, technical education and internship opportunities for older students and summer programs that can help keep students on track.

“We’ve been the last and the worst performing state in the union. We know that this isn’t reflective of who we are, and we’re going to do everything we can to challenge and change that,” he said. “This is about what’s doing what’s right for kids, even if it’s hard.”

Consideration of the 180-day proposal began last year, spurring much opposition from teacher unions and Republican lawmakers who voiced concerns about everything from districts losing local control to teachers having to work longer hours and more days.

Many of the complaints centered on the ability of districts — particularly those in rural areas —- to retain four-day weeks.

Romero said the feedback and the debates had over the last few months helped to make what he described as a stronger rule, noting that there’s flexibility that will allow for four-day weeks as long as districts can show increases in academic performance.

Reaching that bar might be difficult for many schools given the results of last spring’s standardized testing. The results showed just 38% of tested students were proficient in reading, marking a slight uptick from the previous year. Statewide math proficiency was stagnant at 24%.

The results prompted a letter from Romero to districts calling for more accountability throughout the state’s education system.

New Mexico passed legislation in 2023 increasing the number of hours students needed to be in school from roughly 1,000 hours to 1,140 hours. The change meant several districts around the state had to lengthen the school day or add more days to meet the requirement. The legislation also allowed space for professional development for teachers within a normal school day.

Republican legislative leaders were among those to send letter to the state Public Education Department about their concerns over the 180-day requirement. They argued that the rule would circumvent the intention of the legislation to add instructional time and would further burden districts.

Sen. Crystal Brantley, a Republican who represents rural areas in southern New Mexico, said the adoption of the rule comes as a surprise given the pushback from school administrators, teachers and legislators on both sides of the aisle.

“My local superintendents are still combing through the details, but based on my early conversations with them, significant issues and questions remain,” she told The Associated Press. “I believe those best suited to make these decisions are those closest to the students, and as such, I will continue to oppose efforts by PED to seize more control from our school boards and administrators.”

The Public Education Department said the new rule will be in effect for the school year that begins this fall.

United States News

Associated Press

Search continues in Maine as officer is charged with lying about taking missing person to hospital

WASHBURN, Maine (AP) — A Maine police officer accused of lying about a missing person case was charged with several crimes, including falsifying a report in which he claimed he had taken the missing man to a hospital, police said. Washburn Police Sgt. Chandler Cole resigned from the police department after being charged with aggravated […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

River barges break loose in Pittsburgh, causing damage and closing bridges before some go over a dam

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A large group of river barges broke loose and floated down the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, damaging a marina and causing bridge closures before the boats were pinned to the riverbank or went over a dam downstream, officials said. Pittsburgh police, fire and emergency medical services responded around 11:25 p.m. Friday to […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

10 years after armed standoff with federal agents, Bundy cattle are still grazing disputed rangeland

BUNKERVILLE, Nev. (AP) — The words “Revolution is Tradition” stenciled in fresh blue and red paint mark a cement wall in a dry river wash beneath a remote southern Nevada freeway overpass, where armed protesters and federal agents stared each other down through rifle sights 10 years ago. It was just before noon on a […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

1 dead after shuttle bus crashes at a Honolulu cruise ship terminal

HONOLULU (AP) — One person died and multiple people were injured when a shuttle bus collided with pedestrians and concrete barriers at a Honolulu cruise ship terminal, authorities said Friday. The crash occurred when the shuttle bus driver mistook the gas pedal for the brake, Honolulu police said in statement. The driver had dropped off […]

16 hours ago

Former President Donald Trump, center, appears in court for his arraignment, Tuesday, April 4, 2023...

Associated Press

Manhattan court searching for jurors to hear first-ever criminal case against a former president

Jury selection is set to start Monday in former President Donald Trump's hush money case — the first trial of the presumptive nominee.

16 hours ago

Emergency personnel arrive on the scene after a  an 18-wheeler crashed into the Texas Department of...

Associated Press

1 dead and 13 injured in semitrailer crash at a Texas public safety office, with the driver jailed

A driver rammed an 18-wheeler though the front of a building where his renewal for a commercial driver’s license had been rejected.

17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

New Mexico ranks last when it comes to education. Will a mandatory 180 days in the classroom help?