A few days ago hundreds of very young children of New Mexico arrived at the Roundhouse to make their case for the legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2018, which if adopted by the voters, would allow for “the use of additional funds to increase the availability and quality of early childhood education.” – NM Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC) analysis of HJR1.
These kids are full of life and promise. They arrived with parents, teachers, and other advocates with signs and a message for legislators: ‘we are worth you not delaying our ability to reach our full potential as adults.’
According to a paper produced by ReadyNation (Strengthening business through effective investments in children and youth), entitled Benefits and Outcomes of High-Quality Early Childhood Education:
- Young children’s brains develop 700 synapses – neural connections that support learning and skills – every second. By age 3, a child’s brain has reached about 85% of its adult weight.
- An overview of 56 studies across 23 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Central/South America found impacts of early childhood programs on health, IQ, and emotional development.
- Children in the Chicago Child-Parent Centers (CPC) preschool were 29% more likely to graduate from high school, and the Perry Preschool Project children graduated 44% more often.
- By age 30, individuals served by the Abecedarian preschool program were four times more likely to graduate college (and 42% more likely to be consistently employed).
- Child care and preschool professionals generally spend most of their earnings locally. States realize roughly $2 in local spending for each child care dollar spent.
It would be hard to find anyone to argue against the merits of having all children receive early education as proscribed in HJR 1.
The hesitancy of several key legislators to back the bill seems to be based upon their belief that New Mexico state government cannot afford it at this time, and that the funding should not come from the permanent fund of the state.
But how can New Mexicans not afford to do this? If not done now, the opportunity for these kids becomes diminished.
Filed by Representative Moe Maestas, this measure has made its way through the House committee process, and is about to be finally voted upon in the House. It then goes to the Senate.
Other legislators have tried to move the needle forward on early childhood education investment, but have run into stingy colleagues and lobbyists. As recently as ten days ago a Senate committee turned away Senator Michael Padilla’s effort to fund early childhood education through a meager increase in a tax on energy companies.
The lobbyists lined up and claimed the companies they represent should not have to pay for this. Why shouldn’t the same companies that get favored treatment by the New Mexico legislature and the governor step up and be contributing members of the community?
One excuse after another, one year after another, and thousands more kids each year lose out on this important learning opportunity.
It’s time for politicians to do the right thing, not talk about it.
And it’s time to stop holding these kids’ future hostage to hidden agendas of a few powerful legislators.
In the section of the analysis by the LESC entitled Synopsis of Bill it further explains:
“House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR1) amends Article XII, Section 7 of the Constitution of the State of New Mexico to permanently increase annual distributions from the Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) by 1 percent for the purposes of educational programs and early childhood educational services beginning in FY20.”
New Mexico can afford this investment … in fact New Mexico cannot afford to wait any longer.
The time to pass this along to the public is now.