- A New Mexico lawmaker introduced a bill that would create a state agency focusing on early-childhood education, as well as other intervention services for children from birth to age 5, according to U.S. News and World Report.
- The proposal, announced by State Sen. Michael Padilla (D-Albuquerque), comes as Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who pledged to increase access to preschool, is set to take office in January. If enacted, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department would consolidate resources spread among multiple state departments, The Albuquerque Journal reported.
- Under a district court order, the government will have until mid-April to develop a plan that ensures at-risk students are receiving an adequate education. During her campaign, Grisham said, “New Mexico deserves a public education infrastructure that provides real opportunities for all kids and is focused on helping those most at-risk students succeed. I’ll begin by making universal access to quality full-day pre-K a reality for every 3- and 4-year-old so that they arrive at kindergarten prepared to achieve.”
A variety of governance models for early-childhood education exist across the country. Many state education agencies include an early-childhood department, which, for school administrators, may seem like a more streamlined way to gain information and resources related to young children. Such models might also suggest state leaders view programs for young children as education and not child care for working parents.
A separate birth-to-5 state agency, however, can send a message that the governor or legislature considers early learning to be a priority, and it can create stronger connections between preschool programs and other efforts to serve families with young children, such as home visiting, child care and developmental screening programs. In other states, the authority and accountability for early-childhood programs is spread across multiple agencies, such as education, labor and human services.
Each model, according to a framework document from the Build Initiative, has advantages and disadvantages. In considering a potential governance shift, states should "evaluate their existing leadership and capacity, and determine whether a governance change is likely to significantly improve how the state meets key values in governance like coordination, coherence, sustainability, efficiency and accountability; if the benefits outweigh the costs of transition, a change may be appropriate," the authors write. "Ultimately, the critical question is whether a governance change will lead to improved outcomes for the young children who need them most."