The big idea — a plan to close the achievement gap between low- and upper-income students — jumped off the pages of a magazine. It was 2003, and then-Rep. Mimi Stewart, an Albuquerque Democrat and former schoolteacher, read an article by the late leader of the American Federation of Teachers union, Sandra Feldman. She proposed adding five weeks to the school year for low-income kindergarten students and called it “Kindergarten-Plus.”
Stewart ran a bill to create the program in New Mexico. Her version of Feldman’s idea had many things going for it — not least that Stewart herself had already spent eight years in the House building political capital. Democrats had full control of the Roundhouse and a governor from their party.