Blog: Latino Ed Beat

MALDEF Investigates Latino Achievement Gap in New Mexico

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund  is investigating the lagging academic performance of Latino students in New Mexico. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the civil rights group is probing the substantial achievement gap between Hispanic and white students and how it relates to state funding. Given the announcement, some are wondering whether MALDEF plans to sue the state.

About 48 percent of  Latino third-graders in New Mexico are proficient in reading, compared with 69 percent of white students, the newspaper reported. Latino students make up about 70 percent of the state’s public school students.

News 4/KOB in New Mexico reported that Gov. Susana Martinez agreed that closing the achievement gap for Hispanics is a top priority, but that students of all backgrounds in the state need help. The state’s public education secretary, Hannah Skandera, told the station that efforts are underway to address the problem. ”We require every school across the state to demonstrate and provide evidence of a plan of closing the achievement gap,” Skandera said. “We have not done these things before in our state. It really is a resounding commitment. I applaud MALDEF for taking their position on this.”

The recent annual “Kids Count” report on child well-being by the Annie E. Casey Foundation recently found that New Mexico ranks 49th in the nation in education.