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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Report: NM school funding suffers from lack of 'economic capacity'

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Friday, January 26, 2024   

A new report says state funding for public schools has fallen off a "fiscal cliff" in 39 states, and that New Mexico is one of 10 states where some 60% of students attend school in "chronically underfunded" districts.

According to the study, a dropoff in state funding in four out of five states began in 2006 during the Great Recession, but co-author Bruce Baker, a professor at the University of Miami, said New Mexico's economic ability to fund schools needs to be considered when looking at the data.

"New Mexico spends a higher share of its economic capacity on schools than the national average because it has very weak, very low economic capacity," he said. "And New Mexico's effort in the last few years has been about the same as it was before the Great Recession."

Baker said New Mexico is one of three states, along with Mississippi and Alabama, that would benefit from more federal aid to close the gap in school funding because they can't do it on their own. The report concluded that the decline in state funding cost schools more than $360 billion between 2016 and 2021.

The report was prepared by the Albert Shanker Institute, an educational advocacy nonprofit. Its executive director, Mary Cathryn Ricker, said school districts were granted new federal government funds to address the learning setbacks caused by COVID. However, she noted that most school districts will use the last of that money in upcoming budgets.

"Everyone is concerned about the so-called 'fiscal cliff' coming when federal pandemic aid runs out," she said, "but school funding in most states fell off a fiscal cliff 15 years ago and never got back up."

The report found African American students are twice as likely as white students to be in districts with funding below estimated adequate levels. The discrepancies between Hispanic and white students were smaller but still significant.

Disclosure: American Federation of Teachers contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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