Since the beginning of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration, New Mexico education agencies and the Department of Indian Affairs have established meaningful government-to-government relationships and worked closely with tribes and pueblos. to meet the needs of Indigenous students, educators and communities.
Ensuring that tribal consultation and community involvement are key components of everything state education agencies do has allowed us to enact measures that build on the strengths of Native American students to reflect appropriately Indigenous history, knowledge and language in the classroom; and lead to the recruitment and retention of qualified educators with academic and cultural knowledge.
Creating a truly equitable cradle-to-career education system also means collaboration across state government. In collaboration with Lujan Grisham and in consultation and partnership with tribal communities, our agencies join forces to address the challenges faced by Native American students and educators in early childhood, K-12 and Higher Education.
The Department of Early Childhood Education and Care will create a Tribal Early Childhood Advisory Coalition this year, the first of its kind, to inform strategies for supporting children in tribal communities. ECECD’s previous work with local Indigenous knowledge experts from the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo to create the Sowing Seeds Project, a digital workshop that empowers tribal communities to create educational content infused with values, culture and knowledge from their own knowledge system. This work will continue to develop and is included in the ECECD FY23 budget request. In collaboration with the Pueblo de Tesuque, ECECD entered into an intergovernmental agreement to fund a culturally and linguistically relevant pre-K curriculum and awarded more than $700,000 to nearly 500 teachers and support professionals working within tribal communities in the state.
This year we will invest
$1.4 million to continue to strengthen the partnership between ECECD and the 23 sovereign nations and support the expansion of culturally and linguistically relevant early childhood programs in all tribal communities, such as home visiting, early intervention for infants and toddlers (FIT) and pre-K. This includes adding a position within the department to help build the capacity of tribal communities to obtain grants.
Improving educational outcomes for Native American students continues to be a priority, and increasing funding for initiatives under the Indian Education Act from $5.25 million to $20 million will go a long way to ensuring that tribal education departments and schools, Native language programs, and Native American educator pathways receive continued support. The Department of Public Education is working with other state education agencies and higher education partners to create a teacher pool for native language instructors statewide and recommends 1, $25 million this year to ensure that teachers with K-12 Native American language and culture certifications are paid the same as other licensed teachers with the same level of experience.
The Department of Higher Education continues to work with tribal colleges and policymakers to improve enrollment and graduation rates for Native American students. More than $4.4 million in public funds was awarded to Native American students enrolled in public and tribal colleges in New Mexico last year, and we are working to establish a comprehensive, free college program this year so that more students can earn tuition-free degrees and certificates.
We are also investing in
$2.4 million this year for initiatives at tribal and public higher education institutions that support Native American students, faculty, and communities, and we recommend $11.1 million to build new educational facilities in these establishments.
We have accomplished a lot together, but our work is not done. By continuing on this path of partnership, we will promote a truly representative education system. This administration is doing this work, and we won’t stop until every student and community succeeds.
Elizabeth Groginsky is Cabinet Secretary for Early Childhood Education and Care. Kurt Steinhaus is New Mexico’s Secretary of Public Education. Stephanie Rodriguez is the New Mexico Secretary for Higher Education.