Governor Proposes Nearly Doubling Funding For Early Reading Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE — Gov. Susana Martinez proposes a targeted $10 million expansion of the New Mexico Reads to Lead initiative, a statewide program that identifies struggling students in kindergarten through third grade and provides them with the help they need to strengthen their reading skills.

“I’ve always said that every child can learn. And it starts with reading,” Martinez said. “If we want our kids to succeed in the classroom, we need to help them build a strong foundation of reading skills. By expanding New Mexico Reads to Lead, we will be able to identify more struggling students and give them the help they deserve – no matter their background or where they go to school.”

Martinez first established New Mexico Reads to Lead in 2012 to help teachers and schools better identify students struggling in reading, and provide more resources to help build and strengthen reading skills.

The program provides valuable resources to students, teachers, parents, and schools such as reading coaches, professional development for teachers, reading skills screening in elementary schools, family activities, and workshops like “Readers Raise the Roof.”

Through Martinez’s proposed expansion, her executive budget recommendation will include another $10 million for Reads to Lead, in addition to the current funding of $15 million, growing the total to $25 million.

The proposed expansion would be targeted specifically and directly on as many as 60 struggling schools, infusing dozens more interventionists and reading coaches to support teachers, administrators, and students in improving literacy performance.

“Reading is an essential foundation for success both inside and outside the classroom,” said New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera. “For kids to be successful at the next grade level and beyond, we have to intervene today with the support and help our kids deserve.”

Since Martinez first established Reads to Lead, New Mexico has invested $49.5 million in the program.

Initially serving 12 districts and one charter school, Reads to Lead now includes 88 participating school districts, as well as 35 charter schools.
Given the compilation of several years of data on school and student performance, this new funding would be infused directly into as many as 60 of the schools most in need of improvements in reading.

“We need to inundate our struggling schools with literacy support – targeted help to give students the best chance to learn to read,” Martinez concluded. “And as I’ve continued to call for, we need to demand that children learn to read early on, and stop shuffling struggling students into higher grades to face discouragement and despair.”