A New Mexico judge ruled that the state’s education system is inadequate and gave New Mexico’s legislative branch less than a year to fix the problem.
Students in New Mexico are “caught in an inadequate system and will remain there if better programs are not instituted,” First Judicial District Judge Sarah Singleton ruled Friday, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. The judge gave state leaders until April 15, 2019 to improve New Mexico’s education system so that students will be able to access the resources needed to prepare them for college upon matriculation from high school.
The ruling comes after a group of students, parents and school districts filed a 2014 lawsuit against the state, asking it to fix its broken education system.
“The courts of New Mexico have ruled for the first time ever that the constitution provides for children to have a fundamental right to education,” said Martin Estrada, the lawyer representing one set of plaintiffs in the case, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. He is also a lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “This is not just something aspirational but something that requires action by the state.”
“Today’s decision represents a major victory not just for the children of New Mexico, but for all those who cherish education and seek the best possible future for our country,” Estrada also told The Daily Caller News Foundation Saturday. “In recognizing education’s ‘fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society’ and requiring that the State do the same, the Court acted in accord with the law and the best traditions of our nation,” he added.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has long argued that the changes the state has made and continues to make, including a number of education reforms and public education investments, will make a difference.
New Mexico had the lowest average graduation rate of any U.S. state at 67.9 percent for 2016, according to U.S. News and World Report.
“I hope they don’t drag this out in appeals,” said Santa Fe Public school board President Steven Carrillo, who hopes the state won’t appeal the judge’s ruling. The plaintiffs and defendants have 28 days to file an appeal should they choose to do so.
“For God’s sake, just do the right thing and fund public education,” he added.
The governor’s office did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.