KUNM

Advocates Push Back On Bilingual Education Overhaul

May 4, 2017

Bilingual advocacy groups in New Mexico are pushing back against the state public education department in response to a proposal to overhaul the state’s bilingual education system.  

Victoria Tafoya said she’s ready for changes – she’s been working in bilingual education here for 19 years and is now the operations director with Dual Language Education of New Mexico.  

Tafoya said there’s one small administrative change she supports. "Other than that with the lack of consultation it really has created confusion across the state," Tafoya said. 

Tafoya said the state proposed the overhaul without talking to tribal educators, bilingual schools or non-profits that teach and advocate for more than 50,000 students who are enrolled in the programs across New Mexico. At a hearing this week, PED got an earful about the need for consultation.

A PED spokeswoman sent a statement that said the department remains open to feedback and reiterated that the overhaul would not reduce bilingual education funding or the number of students served.

The department plans to hold another public hearing in three months.

PED's proposal would eliminate three of the state's five bilingual education models: enrichment and maintenance. Students from those programs would be able to enter programs designed under the other three models: dual language, heritage and transitional.

The enrichment model helps native English speaking students learn a prominent language spoken in their community. The maintenance program aims to improve students' English and native languages literacy simultaneously.