There is no question that 2018’s Yazzie Martinez education lawsuit has changed the conversation on education in New Mexico.
Yes, there is still the constant discussion about the state’s dead last ranking in education, but the ruling by District Judge Sarah Singleton that the state is failing its constitutional duty to educate at-risk students put some legal force behind demands of advocates that the state do something about it. The future of education in light of the lawsuit was probably the biggest issue in the 2018 governor’s race. And it was behind the nearly half-billion in extra funding allocated by the 2019 Legislature for the state’s public schools. Despite that cash infusion, advocates say the state didn’t do nearly enough in 2019, and are pushing lawmakers to do much more to transform the education system. Southern New Mexico, because of its distance, is often left out of the conversation. But last week Ngage New Mexico, a Las Cruces-based education nonprofit, and Transform Education New Mexico, a coalition that came of out the Yazzie Martinez case, teamed up to look at what opportunities lie ahead for the state in education.