Voices for Children says NM minorities can’t handle standardized tests

As we have noted in recent years New Mexico Voices for Children has begun backing away from their own (the report is compiled by Annie E. Casey Foundation and released in NM by Voices and we regret any implication to the contrary) “Kids Count” report which once again ranked New Mexico 50th overall.

Here’s a quote they put out in the wake of the report: 

“New Mexico’s ranking in the education domain is heavily impacted by national standardized test scores, including fourth grade reading proficiency,” said Emily Wildau, KIDS COUNT Coordinator at New Mexico Voices for Children. “Reading proficiency is critical for students to succeed academically and as adults. These scores do not reflect the ability of our children, but rather an education system that is not designed with our multicultural, multilingual students in mind.” New Mexico K-12 students of color and those who are Native American, from low-income families, and who have disabilities tend to not fare as well as their white, more affluent peers, largely as a result of generations of underfunding the education system and a lack of culturally responsive instruction and support.

There are so many rebuttals:

  1. New Mexico spends a great deal on K-12 education. Some states spend more and some spend less, but New Mexico has been nowhere near the bottom in K-12 spending for years.
  2. What happened to pre-K as the savior? Pre-K has been “free” and universal for only a few years, but taxpayer-funded pre-K has been around in NM for two decades. Has it had ANY positive impact on student outcomes?
  3. Test scores account for JUST TWO of the Kids Count report’s variables. They are really blaming just two variables for New Mexico’s awful 50th ranking?
  4. We certainly take issue with the idea that minorities can’t perform well on standardized tests. That seems a bit racist and would undoubtedly be labeled as such if it were asserted by conservatives.
  5. Finally, many states with large populations of black and Hispanic students perform WELL on the NAEP and other standardized tests. Maryland, Florida, California, and Texas all have large minority populations yet they blow New Mexico out of the water. We’ve documented Mississippi’s educational improvement as well.
  6. Their statement ALMOST could be taken as an endorsement of school choice and giving parents the ability to choose an education that fits with the student’s culture and interests. Alas, Voices opposes school choice.