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Mon Oct 5, 2020, 05:00 AM

New Mexico public education secretary under fire amid pandemic

State lawmakers and top school officials on Thursday raised sharp criticisms of the New Mexico Public Education Department’s leadership as districts navigate the challenges of reopening elementary schools to students using a hybrid model amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Several members of the Legislative Finance Committee castigated the state agency for what they called an overreach of its authority when it came to creating and abruptly changing stringent guidelines districts must follow to open schools through the hybrid approach, which combines in-classroom instruction with remote learning from home. Some even suggested stripping power from the department and letting school administrators have a greater voice in the process.

Much of the concern centered on Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart, who was not present for the legislative hearing on the state’s efforts to comply with a judge’s ruling in the landmark Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico lawsuit, which called for heavier investments in resources to help certain groups of students overcome achievement gaps.

Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants, called Stewart an “absent secretary,” noting he was living in Philadelphia in the spring and summer, when crucial decisions were being made about how education would be carried out during the 2020-21 school year.

Read more: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/coronavirus/new-mexico-public-education-secretary-under-fire-amid-pandemic/article_5803d9aa-03f8-11eb-b175-27db62ed0a9d.html

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