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Civil Rights Group Sues New Mexico Over Lack of Equity for ELLs, Poor Students

New Mexico's current education improvement agenda—including new teacher-evaluation and A-F school-grading systems—is harming the state's large population of English-language learners and low-income students, according to a lawsuit filed against the state today by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF.

The lawsuit, filed by MALDEF in a district court earlier today on behalf of several parents with children in schools around the state, also alleges that New Mexico officials aren't providing adequate funding to schools to support the needs of several groups of students, including English-learners, Latino students, and American Indian students.

MALDEF's suit comes on the heels of a similar lawsuit in the state that also alleges that New Mexico is failing to provide a "sufficient education" as required by the state's constitution. That suit was brought by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

The MALDEF complaint in part zeroes in on specific reform initiatives for K-12 that have been pushed by Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, and the state's K-12 schools chief, Hanna Skandera (whose official title is "Secretary-Designate of Education" because state lawmakers, for more than three years, have never confirmed her in the position).

The state's three-year old school grading system, MALDEF alleges, labels many schools with grades of C or lower, making it difficult to recruit top-flight teachers to the campuses filled with struggling students and most in need of them.  The state's teacher-evaluation system also unfairly rates teachers, MALDEF argues, and limits school districts' efforts to recruit and retain effective teachers to work with the state's most struggling students.


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