No Child Left Behind Reform Bill Includes NM Priorities

U.S. SENATE News:

  • ‘We must make sure these resources reach all students, especially those who need them most to succeed’ –Sen. Tom Udall

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced Wednesday that several of the priorities he has championed for New Mexico students have been included in the Every Child Achieves Act.

The bill, which the full Senate will debate in the coming months, reforms and updates No Child Left Behind to improve access to a high-quality K-12 education.

The Every Child Achieves Act, which was approved unanimously by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, includes a provision to allow tribal leaders to teach Native languages at Indian Country schools, which is part of Udall’s Building Upon Unique Indian Learning and Development (BUILD) Act.

It also expands access to physical education by classifying PE as a “core” subject like art and geography, which is part of Udall’s Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life (PHYSICAL) Act. Additionally, the bill includes some of Udall’s other education priorities, like steps to strengthen early childhood education and investments in STEM teaching, financial literacy, rural school districts and 21st-century community learning centers. 

While Udall welcomed these much-needed reforms, he stressed that more work should be done on the bill to ensure that resources and innovations reach all students, especially those who need the most support to succeed in school. 

“High-quality education is crucial to helping every child get a fair shot at success. But far too many schools in New Mexico lack the resources and support they need to make sure our students thrive,” Udall said. “This bill, as it stands now, begins to make much-needed changes, like investing in the classroom and STEM programs to prepare students for 21st-century careers. But we must make sure these resources reach all students, especially those who need them most to succeed.

“I’ve already started working to make these improvements, and I’m pleased the bill includes two investments I have long fought for — assuring that tribal leaders can teach Native languages, and defining PE as a core subject so schools can access federal resources for equipment and teacher training and ensure kids get quality time during the school day to be active.

“I look forward to further strengthening this bill as the Senate continues debate. Education reform must work for New Mexico and ensure that states are using all the tools at their disposal to reach every student. We should expand resources for our public schools and find fair ways to assess student progress.

“Teachers and principals need access to training, high-quality teaching material and a safe learning environment so they can focus on their students — not crumbling buildings and scarce supplies. I also support strengthening and rewarding teacher performance, because the quality of a student’s education comes down to the quality of her teacher.”

Udall said he will push for several other education reform priorities as the bill moves through the legislative process in the coming months.

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