PRESS RELEASE - August 29, 2003
New Mexico State Department
of Education

300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

SBE Adopts New Science Standards, Licensure Regulations Needed to Implement Three-Tiered Licensure

(Santa Fe, NM)--The New Mexico State Board of Education (SBE) voted unanimously today in Santa Fe to adopt new science standards that are being called “truly excellent,” “clearly among the best in the nation, if not the best” and “an accurate representation of the best science” by leading science organizations and experts and to adopt changes to 15 licensure regulations that will provide for the implementation of three-tiered licensure in New Mexico.

“The SBE’s action today sends a resounding message that it is serious about education reform in New Mexico,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis. “Its vote for the licensure changes is a celebration of teaching in New Mexico. And by approving the science standards without further modification, it has virtually guaranteed that New Mexico’s science standards will be among the best in the nation.”

Through adoption of the licensure rule changes, the SBE aligned the state’s licensure regulations with the “highly qualified” teacher requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Further, the new minimum salaries for three-tiered licensure provided for in HB 212 of 2003, Public School Reform, could not take effect until the SBE adopted increased competencies and a High Objective Uniform Standard of Evaluation (HOUSE) for each licensure level.

The SBE also unanimously adopted a rule providing for certification in native language and culture and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Jicarilla Apache Tribe to implement its Native Language and Culture Program. Speaking in favor of the MOU, tribal member Irvin Phone, of Dulce, said, “I really appreciate what you guys are doing here. It does my heart good.” He noted that some tribes have lost their language and the new certification will help in preserving native languages.

Through approved MOUs, tribal groups will determine how they will establish tribal competencies and verify the language proficiency of tribal members teaching their language in public schools.

The SBE approved the Collaborative Program for Bilingual Endorsement in Navajo at New Mexico Highlands University, the University of New Mexico and Diné College and a proposed regulation for the identification of persistently dangerous schools for public comment. It tabled reconsideration of its positions on the constitutional amendments on governance and the Permanent School Fund which will be voted on during a special election on September 23, 2003.