Does the left understand trade-offs?

Recently readers of the Albuquerque Journal were treated to an opinion piece from the left-wing NM Center for Law and Poverty which claimed that New Mexico has not been “adequately” funding its education system.

Set aside the fact that New Mexico is hardly “nickel and diming” education and the fact that we spend more per-pupil than any of our neighboring states according to Census data:

The idea that New Mexico is under-funding education is ridiculous, but what is really bothersome is that with the Albuquerque Journal doing some excellent reporting on and asking some excellent questions about the Rail Runner’s deeply-troubled finances, where is the left? After all, money spent on the train can’t be spent on schools or teachers.

Having just a few voices on the left talk about priorities for government and discussing tradeoffs (is it education, Medicaid, film subsidies, the Rail Runner, or Spaceport?) would be at least a commendable exercise, but we never hear that. Rather, the left seems to live in a fantasy land where the answer to everything is MORE taxes, MORE spending, and MORE government.

So, come on NM Center for Law and Poverty, where do we cut spending if we want more for education?

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4 Replies to “Does the left understand trade-offs?”

  1. I don’t know if you have ever come across the 2015 research report by the Urban Institute which did a statewise ranking which controlled for demographics using scores from National Assessment for Educational Progress testing. Using this methodology New Mexico ended up in 36th place (rather than the 50th place it landed at without controls). This reflects the demographic challenges presented by the student population of New Mexico schools.

    Perhaps more interesting even than this result is the rankings of two other ‘low-spending’ states with challenging demographics in their school populations – Texas and Florida – which landed in third and fourth place in the adjusted rankings.

    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/72411/2000484-breaking-the-curve-promises-and-pitfalls-of-using-naep-data-to-assess-the-state-role-in-student-achievement.pdf

    Based on these results, I am inclined to draw the following conclusions:

    -Poor performance/rankings of NM schools is primarily a function of the challenging demographics of our school population.
    -New Mexico schools are better than their reputation would suggest.
    -We could do a lot better with the resources we are already spending (even with the difficult demographics) as is shown by Florida and Texas.

    1. I had not seen that report, but will certainly take a look. The teaching establishment here has always emphasized the challenges of educating New Mexico’s population and we are sympathetic to that challenge, but rather than just whining about poverty, it would seem that New Mexico’s schools could learn a lot from practices in other states. We touted Florida and this info backs that up. Thanks.

  2. As has been stated before on this blog, the NM Coalition for Literacy estimates that an astonishing 46% of the adults in NM are funcional illiterates: https://newmexicoliteracy.org/literacy-facts/

    Numbers like that occur only if you have one of the most miserable public education systems in the country and huge percentages of the population just don’t care about being educated.

  3. I recall a film in which a man handed a letter back to his friend, because “Ah kin read readin’, but Ah cain’t read writin’. ”
    When I see handwritten notes by elementary school children, the percentage of unreadable printing is appalling.
    How can the percentage of teachers rated “effective” be twice the percentage of children rated “done learnt somethin’?”

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