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March 13, 2002

Governor's Vetoes 'Fall Short of Hopes'

(Santa Fe, NM)- State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis today said that Governor Gary E. Johnson's vetoes of the proposed Indian Education Act and funding to support schools experiencing significant growth in enrollment "fall short of hopes." Governor Johnson announced the vetoes of Senate Bill 92, Enrollment Growth Program Units Calculation, and Senate Bill 198 and House Bill 28, Indian Education Act, on March 5. The Indian Education Act was part of the New Mexico State Board of Education's (SBE) 2002 legislative package.

"While the vetoes fall short of hopes, we are not disappointed but remain determined. The Indian Education Act is the right thing to do and we are committed to its passage. It is past time to move forward with a comprehensive proposal to provide a quality education to Indian children," he said.

The bills, sponsored by Sen. Leonard Tsosie of Crownpoint and Rep. Ray Begaye of Shiprock, were endorsed by the Tribes of the Navajo Nation and Jicarilla Apache Nation, the All Indian Pueblo Council and the Commission on Indian Affairs.

In 2000-2001, there were 35,230 American Indian students, representing 11 percent of the overall student population, enrolled in New Mexico's public schools. American Indian students performed at a lower level in New Mexico as compared to Anglos, Blacks, Hispanics and other ethnic groups on all statewide assessments administered in English.

"We will continue working with our American Indian partners to define and set public policy that makes sense and will achieve results. We must eliminate the gap that exists between Native Americans and other students," he said. He noted that government-to-government meetings, initiated with Tribal leaders last May to discuss shared areas of concern, will continue as "an instrument of change."

State Superintendent Davis commended Governor Johnson for signing House Bill 204, Native American Language Teacher Certificate. "Native American teachers are the most vital link to Tribal language, culture and community," he said.

Regarding school districts facing significant growth, State Superintendent Davis said, "We must address the issue of adequacy in New Mexico so that schools can fully address the needs of students." Regarding Governor Johnson's veto of Senate Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act of 2002, on March 6, State Superintendent Davis said, "As we look to the future we will focus attention on what will provide maximum benefit to students and clarify what will not."