Education

NM Democrats vow to block governor's proposal to end "social promotion" of 3rd graders

SANTA FE (AP) - New Mexico Democrats say they will resist efforts by Gov. Susana Martinez to balance the state's budget by cutting teachers' salaries.

Sen. Joseph Cervantes said Tuesday the Republican governor's proposal to force teachers to pay more into the pension system was "against New Mexican" values and vowed Democrats would fight it.

The Las Cruces Democrat also faulted Martinez for failing to mention child and rural poverty in her State of the State speech. New Mexico ranks at the bottom nationally on both.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said after the Senate and House tackle the budget, both chambers will present a jobs package to help the state's struggling economy.

Cervantes promised that Democrats would halt the governor's plan to end social promotion for 3rd graders who aren't proficient in reading.

Gov. Martinez says New Mexico is seeing record improvements in its graduation rates but more needs to be done to ensure the state's students are better prepared at a younger age.

The Republican governor used her State of the State address on Tuesday to resume the push against so-called social promotion, when third-grade students are passed on to the next grade even though they can't read at grade level.

The Public Education Department released data earlier this month that shows 6,815 students in third grade during the last school year did not attain proficiency in reading and that more than 95 percent of those students moved on to fourth grade in the fall.

New Mexico is one of eight states that allow for retention but do not require it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sixteen states require students to repeat the grade if they lack reading proficiency by the end of third grade.


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