Michelle Lujan-Grisham on Education



College enrollment has increased for first time in a decade

Since we created tuition-free college, New Mexico college enrollment has increased for the first time in over a decade, and the number of first-time, full-time students has grown by nearly 10 percent--the second-highest college enrollment gain of any state in the country. In some cases, grandparents, parents and their kids are all going to college at the same time--generating new possibilities and a new sense of promise for what we can achieve together.
Source: 2023 State of the State Address to the N.M. legislature , Jan 19, 2023

New constitutional right to early childhood education

As our highly successful Early Childhood Trust Fund grows--and with our new nation-leading constitutional right to early childhood education-- we will provide child care and early education for each and every one of our families by investing more than half a billion dollars in targeted funding.
Source: 2023 State of the State Address to the N.M. legislature , Jan 19, 2023

Enact an equity-first budget for public education

We will enact an equity-first budget for public education, ensuring money reaches students and schools in proportion to the socioeconomic needs of community. We will tackle reforms in special education. We will move forward with a constitutional amendment to invest in early childhood education and well-being. Together we will deliver to New Mexico voters the opportunity to make a generational investment in New Mexico children.
Source: 2021 State of the State Address to New Mexico legislature , Jan 26, 2021

Supports tuition-free two-year higher education

We will deploy funding to realize free higher education for all New Mexicans. We were able to reach almost 5,000 New Mexico students with the Opportunity Scholarship in the fall 2020 semester alone, fully covering their tuition and fees at two-year institutions. If the Legislature will commit the full $22 million in funding I've requested for this program this year, 30,000 more New Mexicans will have access to the two-year higher education they need without worrying about tuition and fees.
Source: 2021 State of the State Address to New Mexico legislature , Jan 26, 2021

Pay teachers more; hire more teachers: education a priority

It would be inaccurate to say we chose education as our top priority. Transforming our public education ecosystem is no less than a moral mandate. We've got to pay educators more and we've got to hire more educators. In our first two years, we will have provided a 10 percent across-the-board raise for our educators--as compared to only 6% total over the eight years before that. Once again: Education was not a priority then. It is now.
Source: 2020 New Mexico State of the State address , Jan 21, 2020

Make tuition-free higher education a reality

New Mexico was the first to guarantee higher education for all. Now, we as a state have fallen behind. We can round out our world-class cradle-to-career educational philosophy with a comprehensive embrace of universal higher education: The Opportunity Scholarship. We have the power to make tuition-free higher education a reality, benefiting an astounding 55,000 New Mexico students this fall. Students want it; parents want it; let's give them the opportunity.
Source: 2020 New Mexico State of the State address , Jan 21, 2020

Raise school salaries; pay for supplies; universal pre-K

We are going to deliver a moonshot for public education in New Mexico: A half billion dollars for our classrooms, new money, put to its best possible use, right now. We are going to raise our educators' salaries by 6 percent across the board. We are going to raise the minimum salaries for every level of educators by at least 10 percent. And we're putting $5 million into a fund for teachers to buy supplies for their classrooms - so that they are no longer paying out of pocket. This is the moment we put New Mexico on the path to universal pre-k. We need the classroom slots, we need the educators, and we need the educators who will educate the educators. My budget calls for investing $60 million in new pre-k classroom slots so we increase our statewide enrollment to 80 percent within the next five years. And that includes money for early childhood educator scholarships, so that we are proactively building and supporting the next generation of top-flight educators.
Source: 2019 State of the State address to New Mexico legislature , Jan 15, 2019

Target aid for Native American & bilingual students

I have proposed an almost 200 percent increase in our Indian Education Fund. Our Native American students will not be left behind. And an additional $55 million for our bilingual and multicultural programs, training more dual-language qualified teachers and ensuring bilingual families will not be left behind. Let our unique multicultural identity be a shining light for this country. Let us show the world how inclusion and empowerment make all of us stronger.
Source: 2019 State of the State address to New Mexico legislature , Jan 15, 2019

Supports universal pre-K; opposes school vouchers

Q: Increase funding for K-12 education?

Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D): Yes. Supports passing constitutional amendment to allow distributions from NM Permanent Fund. Also supports universal pre-K & shifting funding from administrators to classroom teachers.

Steve Pearce (R): Unclear. Reluctant to dip into Permanent Fund, for pre-K or in general. "Far more complex than just throwing more money at the situation." Support better management, mental health support & apprenticeship programs.

Q: Provide publicly funded vouchers to help pay for private schools?

Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D): No. Strongly opposes school vouchers.

Steve Pearce (R): Yes. "Vouchers break link of low-income & low-quality schools."

Source: 2018 CampusElect.org Issue Guide on New Mexico Governor race , Oct 9, 2018

Expand Pell Grants; lower student loan interest

Q: Increase funding for higher education?

Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D): Yes. Find sources of money to replace lottery. In Congress opposed budget that would have lowered Pell Grants.

Steve Pearce (R): No. "Right now we don't have the money." Must first grow the economy. so that we have the money.

Q: Increase federal or state student financial aid?

Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D): Yes. Backed Elizabeth Warren proposal to lower student interest rates by taxing the wealthy. Also backed Pell Grant support & financial aid for people not pursuing 4-year degree.

Steve Pearce (R): Unclear. Voted for a 2015 Federal budget that significantly cut Pell Grants. Also 2006 budget that cut student loan support in favor of deficit reduction.

Source: 2018 CampusElect.org Issue Guide on New Mexico Governor race , Oct 9, 2018

Sponsored 10/10 Loan Forgiveness: cancel college loans after 10 years.

Lujan Grisham co-sponsored Student Loan Fairness Act

Congressional Summary:Student Loan Fairness Act:

Opponent`s argument against bill: (Blog post on voices.yahoo.com, `Why I`m Against the Student Loan Fairness Act`): The two key points to this bill are:

  1. The 10-10 plan: Where an individual would be required to make ten years of payments at 10% of their discretionary income, after which their remaining federal student loan debt would be forgiven.
  2. Cap federal interest rates at 3.4% and allowing existing borrowers whose educational loan debt exceeds their income to convert their private loan debt into federal Direct Loans.
    Source: H.R.1330 13-H1330 on Mar 21, 2013

    No-strings-attached block grant will kill transparency.

    Lujan Grisham voted NAY A-PLUS Amendment To Student Success Act

    Heritage Action Summary: An amendment offered by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to the Student Success Act (H.R. 5). The amendment, known as A-PLUS (Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success), would give the states the ability to consolidate their federal education funds and use them for any lawful education purpose they deem beneficial.

    Heritage Foundation recommendation to vote YES: (7/8/2015): A-PLUS lets states escape No Child Left Behind`s prescriptive programmatic requirements. At its core, A-PLUS delivers on the promise of `restoring state and local control over the 10% of education funding financed by the federal government,` moving dollars out of the hands of federal bureaucrats and political appointees and into the hands of those closer to the students. Now is the time for Congress to restore federalism in education, empower parents and students instead of bureaucrats and unions, and remove archaic obstacles that have prevented true opportunity for all.

    US News and World Report recommendation to vote NO: (4/7/2015): A-PLUS [is intended as] a no-strings-attached block grant. There isn`t all that much the federal government can do well in education, but it`s because of federally-required transparency that charter schools and voucher schools can demonstrate that they work. For example, New York City`s Success Academy scores in the top 1% of all the state`s public schools in math and in the top 3% in English. When Success Academy came under fire from teachers` union-backed Mayor Bill de Blasio, it was able to fight back with numbers to prove it. If a strong-union state were to receive a no-strings-attached block grant, transparency would be the first thing to go. A no-strings-attached block grant is an overreaction to federal overreach.

    Legislative outcome: Failed House 195 to 235 (no Senate vote)

    Source: Congressional vote 15-H0005 on Jul 8, 2015

    Oppose private and religious school voucher programs.

    Lujan Grisham voted NAY SOAR Act

    Heritage Action Summary: The House will vote to reauthorize the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act (H.R. 10). The bill would continue funding through Fiscal Year 2021 and allow eligible students in Washington, D.C. to enroll in a participating private school.Analysis by Heritage Action:

    ACLU recommendation to vote NO: (Letter to U.S.House, 3/29/2011): The ACLU urges Congress to oppose the SOAR Act, legislation to restart and expand Washington DC`s failed private and religious school voucher pilot program. Originally started as a five-year pilot program in 2004, the DC voucher program is the nation`s first and only federally-funded private and religious school voucher program. Under the federal voucher pilot program, funds were provided to schools even though they infuse their curricular materials with specific religious content and even though they are not covered by many of the nation`s civil rights statutes that would otherwise protect students against discrimination. Additionally, each of the congressionally-mandated studies to explore the pilot program concluded that the voucher program had no significant effect on the academic achievement.

    Cato Institute recommendation to vote YES: (4/28/2016): The Obama administration has repeatedly worked to undermine or eliminate the DC school choice program, even though it has the support of local Democratic politicians such as the DC Mayor and a majority of the DC City Council. Low-income students shouldn`t be condemned to low-quality schools just because their parents cannot afford a home in a wealthy neighborhood. The DC program was an important step toward breaking the link between home prices and school quality.

    Legislative outcome: Passed by the House 240-191-3; never came to a vote in the Senate.

    Source: Congressional vote 15-H0010 on Oct 21, 2015

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