Senator Craig Brandt, the New Mexico Senate Minority Whip, introduced a bill to fund students, which would create comprehensive school choice reform in New Mexico.
This bill relates to education in the state of New Mexico and enacts the Education Freedom Account Act.
It provides for establishing Education Freedom Accounts, which can be used to pay for private school tuition, tutoring services, textbooks, and instructional materials, nationally standardized assessments, and other educational charges approved by the department. It outlines the application process and procedures for parents and education service providers, as well as the rules and responsibilities of the parents and students.
It also creates an Education Freedom Review Commission to assist the department in determining what expenditures are qualifying educational expenses.
Senator Brandt issued the following statement accompanying the announcement of his bill:
All students, regardless of their circumstances or zip code, deserve access to a high-quality education. The wealthy have always been afforded options for their children’s schooling and it is time we make those options available to everyone else.
Parents should not be forced to reenroll their child in a failing school year after year. Trapping students in failing schools has caused many of the inequities we have today, and until we prioritize students over systems, New Mexico will continue to be at the bottom of education in America.
Corey DeAngelis, a renowned education reform advocate and Senior Fellow of the American Federation for Children, endorsed the bill. “All families would be able to take their children’s education dollars to the education providers of their choosing,” said DeAngelis in a tweet.
Language within the bill explicitly states that an “education service provider is not an agent of the state or federal government, a local school board or school district or governing authority or charter school.” Additionally, “no action of an education service provider shall be construed as an action by the state or any of its departments.”
The bill is written in such a way as to not offend New Mexico’s anti-donation clause and would enable parents to take their children’s educational dollars to the school of their choosing.
Arizona recently adopted comprehensive universal school choice, and parents flooded the state website as they applied for the new program. Immediately following the program’s official launch, there was so much web traffic to the application portal that the website was temporarily taken offline. This is a clear indication that parents want education freedom through school choice programs.
The current partisan makeup of the legislature in New Mexico makes the passage of Senator Brandt’s school choice bill an uphill battle. But parents have recently expressed their concern about the quality of education in New Mexico. Education reform should be a top priority of this legislative session.