« Districts, Coping with Cuts, Do the Personnel Shuffle | Main | New Jersey Teachers' Union Sues to Stop Pension Cost Hikes »

Push to End 'Social Promotion' Hits Obstacles in New Mexico

It's a hot idea in education: require 3rd graders to demonstrate basic skills in reading before allowing them to move on to the next grade.

And it's an issue that's high on the agenda of New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, as well as state Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera.

But the governor is facing political roadblocks, with a key Democratic lawmaker, Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia, voicing doubts about Martinez's 3rd grade proposal. Garcia took the unusual step of expressing her reservations at a pre-arranged news conference with the governor at a school this week.

MartinezSusana.jpg

The lawmaker apologized to the governor for backing away from the plan, but said she had been "mobbed with calls" from parents and others with concerns about the proposal. Martinez wants legislators to address the 3rd grade policy in an upcoming legislative session, but Garcia indicated she's not on board.

Garcia's stance has drawn criticism from the state Republican party and others, though one editorial faults the governor for focusing on other, divisive legislative issues, and not pushing hard enough for action on the 3rd grade proposal.

Backers of efforts to ensure that students can read at grade level by 3rd grade sometimes describe those proposals as attempts to end "social promotion." Oklahoma approved a policy to prevent students from advancing to 4th grade if their reading skills are lagging. Arizona has a law that mandates identification and retention of struggling readers in early grades. Jeb Bush is widely credited with having been a pioneer of the idea through a policy approved in his state (Skandera worked for the former Florida governor before heading to New Mexico).

For an overview of states' work promoting early reading skills, see my colleague Catherine Gewertz's story from July on the topic.

Photo: Gov. Martinez on the opening day of the legislative session in Santa Fe earlier this year. By Jane Phillips/The New Mexican/AP-File

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login |  Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments