New Mexico students spend plenty of hours in the classroom

An opinion piece in Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal by Bernalillo Schools’ superintendent represents only the second known person who supports the Gov.’s 180 school week mandate. In it he argues, “The reality is that our students desperately need more high-quality instructional time in the classroom. New Mexico students lag far behind their peers in almost every other state in the number of days they spend in school.”

Is this true? I set out to find out. According to the Education Commission of the States New Mexico students actually spend a good deal of time in the classroom. According to the regulation passed in 2023 New Mexico students spend 1,140 hours in school annually. Very few states spend more time, but lets focus on our neighboring states (remember, all of these states spend less and achieve better results than New Mexico):

Grades 1-3: 712 hours
Grades 4-8: 890 hours
Grades 9-12: 720 hours

Half-day Kindergarten: 450 hours
Full-day Kindergarten: 900 hours
Grades 1-5: 990 hours
Grades 6-12: 1,080 hours

1,080 hours

75,600 minutes (1,260 hours)

990 hours

This data is from 2023 and New Mexico adopted the 1,140 hours requirement in 2023, but we don’t think many states changed their laws at the same time. ONLY a few states had more time in the classroom mandated. Those included Texas and Maryland which required 1,260 and 1,170 hours (Maryland’s was only for public high schools).

New Mexico is dead-last in education. A lack of hours in the classroom is simply not the issue. Even more shocking is the fact that while American students spend MORE time in the classroom than their peers in other nations the US lags badly in most academic performance measures.