Governor Bill Richardson has proposed the passage of a Hispanic Education Act in New Mexico in an effort to close the achievement gap for Latino students who make up 56% of New Mexico students. Critics of such a bill argue that the state’s department of education and schools are already doing much of what such an act would put into law. The problem remains, however, that even when achievement scores for all students across the state have increased, the scores of Hispanic students, as well as American Indian and African American students, have consistently remained significantly lower than those of Asian and Caucasian students. So while critics of Governor Richardson’s proposal may or may not be correct that the new law would not give any substantial new powers to the New Mexico schools, I believe that such a proposal would serve to focus the attention of the state on a critical issue. It is not okay that students of color consistently score significantly lower than Asian and Caucasian peers. And if what is presently being done in New Mexico schools is not closing that gap, then something else needs to be done. It’s really pretty simple. How do you know when you’ve fixed a leaky roof? It stops leaking. How do you know when you’ve fixed the achievement gap? The gap disappears. Well, it hasn’t. And until it does we have to keep working on it and not assuming that by some roundabout fashion it will be ameliorated.
Nice move Gov. Richardson and good luck to the good people of New Mexico who want to do what is right for all children.