We’ve been dilly-dallying about deploying a first-rate program statewide for at least 15 years. Each session, too many in the Legislature have feared making the commitment, not bold enough to make a real difference in the future of our state. As a result, only a few limited programs have been funded.

It’s hard I know to move away from our peers in educational non-attainment like Mississippi and West Virginia. Sure, we’re 47th in high school graduations but at least we’re not 48th.

Some continue to claim that Early Childhood Education doesn’t work. Yet studies such as the recent findings from the Harvard Graduate School of Education that high-quality ECE programs meant fewer students in special education and fewer held back. Most important, more were likely to graduate from high school. The findings were based on the results in 22 well-constructed research studies published between 1960 and 2016.

How much does it cost New Mexico to have so many kids not finishing high school, to need so many special education programs and to have a workforce that too often doesn’t meet employers’ needs?

I got interested in ECE around 2006 or so when I heard Art Rolnick, a Minneapolis Fed economist, give a talk in Santa Fe about his findings that there was a significant financial return on every dollar spent on a Michigan ten-year program of Early Childhood Education.

There is every reason to believe that using Land Grant Permanent Fund dollars to fund first-rate ECE programs throughout New Mexico would produce a higher rate of return than the earnings on that money if it had stayed in the fund. 

Can we please step up and let the public vote on this issue?

Chuck Wellborn

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