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Ballot Initiative could allocate more funding to early childhood education and public schools

U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Aubrey Robinson
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Voters in the November election will have the option to approve Constitutional Amendment 1, which would invest money from a state trust, in our youngest children and public school systems. The Land Grant Permanent Fund is the second wealthiest fund in the country, and advocates have pushed for years to use more of the money to address New Mexico’s historically low child well-being rankings.

The Land Grant Permanent Fund already disburses money every year for education, but this amendment would increase the disbursement by a little over 1.25%, making $150 million available for early childhood education.

Another $100 million would go to public schools to fund hiring more teachers and support staff, expanding programs for at-risk students, and paying for building maintenance and repair.

Hailey Heinz is deputy director and senior researcher of the Cradle to Career Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. She said that when people think of early childhood, they think pre-K, but it also includes home visits for pregnant people and families with infants, as well as child care. Heinz said those fields face a shortage of workers.

"The wages for this are historically, tragically low," she said.

Heinz acknowledged that in recent years the state has made funding for early childhood education a priority.

"But we need to imagine a system that has a culture of plenty rather than scarcity" Heinz said.

And while this additional funding could have an impact, she added, we should set expectations.

"The challenges that lead to New Mexico’s child well-being ranking being what they are; are really layered, and complex, and sticky. And I think we should be clear about the fact that, this or any other ballot initiative, won’t be the cure-all that somehow fixes systemic challenges" said Heinz.

Early voting begins October 11th and Election day is November 8th.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.
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