Administration Initiatives

Governor Lujan Grisham and PED have ushered into law key public and higher education reforms including: significant funding increases for evidence-based programs like K-5 Plus and Extended Learning Time; raising educator salary levels in the state’s three-tier licensure system; instituting an assets-oriented accountability system; enacting free college tution through the Opportunity Scholarship; developing a new teacher evaluation system; and establishing a framework for community schools across New Mexico to provide crucial wraparound health and wellbeing services to children and families.

NM Pre-K

The largest-ever expansion in New Mexico PreK programs will increase students served by more than 3,000, furthering the Governor’s mission of creating a comprehensive educational system from cradle to career. Decades of research have found that access to quality PreK services helps children enter kindergarten with the core academic and social-emotional skills they need to thrive, especially for low-income children and dual language learners.

Literacy Initiatives

On the heels of increased reading proficiencies for the state’s 3rd-8th Graders, the Science of Reading is being implemented at all levels of learning. ECECD began implementing LETRS-EC, aversion of structured literacy tailored to the youngest learners, during School Year 2019-20. PED launched a state-wide structured literacy initiative in the 2020-2021 school year and has 9,000 educators and staff enrolled in training. HED funds 18 adult literacy and 26 adult education programs statewide that teach essential literacy skills to adults. The Governor has also announced plans for a $30m literacy institute focused on improving literacy skills across the board.

Healthy, Universal School Meals

While New Mexico has seen nationally leading decreases in food insecurity rates in recent years, too many New Mexico children continue to have irregular access to high quality, healthy food. For more than 80% of school-age children in New Mexico, school breakfast and school lunch provide as much as half of their daily calories; by taking students’ minds off their stomachs, they are more prepared to learn. More than 300,000 students statewide are now guaranteed no-cost access to healthy, high-quality meals no matter their income or circumstance. 

Learn more about the Governor’s Food Initiative here.


High-Quality Child Care Programs

New Mexico defines High-Quality Child Care programs as those that successfully meet and maintain the criteria at FOCUS STAR-Levels 3, 4 and 5. FOCUS on Young Children’s Learning is that New Mexico’s Tired Quality Rating and Improvement System TQRIS. Having moved out of the pilot phase in 2016, FOCUS has been fully implemented since 2019. FOCUS provides early childhood program personnel with the criteria, tools, and resources they need to improve the quality of their programs. This includes training, resources, and on-site support through consultation. Since the implementation of FOCUS the number of programs in STAR levels 3-5 has increased by 285%.

There are currently 488 quality providers participating in FOCUS across New Mexico; to date, 111 providers have reached FOCUS 3-STAR, 53 have reached 4-STAR, and 324 have reached 5-STAR. The rest are nationally accredited and participating through New Mexico PreK or are currently working toward earning their FOCUS 3-STAR rating.

Community Schools

The Community Schools grant programs now includes well over 100 schools all over New Mexico. Many schools have been able to meet the needs of their students by partnering with local nonprofits, businesses, and community members to provide resources & educational enhancement to students.

Chronic Absenteeism

Public Education Department is addressing chronic absenteeism by launching a media campaign toimprove attendance, providing statewide interventions for those students with the highest absentee rates, and is making grants to districts to implement innovative practices to increase attendance. Students experiencing housing insecurity face the highest rates of chronic absenteeism.

Higher Ed Enrollment

Over 110,000 New Mexicans are pursuing career training certificates, associate, bachelor’s and graduate degrees at state public and tribal colleges and universities, an increase of 2.3 percent over last year. Over 11,000 New Mexicans are pursuing higher education for the first time and as full-time students. Since the enactment of the Opportunity Scholarship Act in 2022, New Mexico has enrolled an additional 6,700 students, a nearly 7 percent enrollment increase over the last two years.

Collaborative Education Outreach

The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is committed to working collaboratively to improve access to educational resources for families in every county of the state.  The Education and Engagement Steering Committee facilitates: the creation of activity kits and coloring books to support intergenerational home learning, literacy and discovery; the DCA Invite an Educator website for teachers and librarians to connect to educators at DCA museums, historic sites, and other cultural institutions; development of travelling exhibits that bring DCA exhibits to rural communities; and online educational resources for students, teachers, and families. 

In FY23, DCA published A is for Artist, an alphabet coloring book featuring the work of 27 New Mexican artists. Over 30,000 collaborative activity kits and coloring books were distributed statewide through public libraries and direct to the public.  Monthly meetings with the Governor’s Commission on Disability identified needs and strategies to make cultural institutions accessible to all.  Weekly community outreach meetings gave DCA staff a chance to learn more about the challenges and aspirations of the families we serve. Using principles of Universal Design for Learning, DCA prioritizes access to education for all New Mexicans regardless of reading level, language preference, or learning style. 

The divisions of DCA support educational programs, exhibits, and services, with dedicated Education staff committed to making culture, history, science, art, and literacy relevant and accessible to all New Mexicans. 

Outreach to Underserved Communities

The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) prioritizes outreach to underserved communities, reaching every county of the state with valuable educational and cultural opportunities. 

While many tribal communities remained closed for health and safety, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, in partnership with the New Mexico State Library’s Tribal Library Program, created takeaway projects distributed through libraries.  At the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in the last year they distributed almost 800 activity kits to New Mexico’s pueblo communities.  The bilingual educator from the Museum of International Folk Art worked with Gerard’s House, which serves primarily Spanish-speaking families experiencing loss, to lead therapy and summer camp sessions for children.  At the Jemez Historic Site, Instructional Coordinator Marlon Magdalena provides tours in both Towa and English languages to students from the surrounding community of Jemez Pueblo.  The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science offers regular sensory friendly hours during their Relaxed Nights, just one part of a larger effort to make the museum more accessible to all.  Statewide, the State Library supports Summer Reading through public libraries, including in tribal and rural communities, making it easy for kids to stay engaged, learning, socializing, and ready to return to school in the Fall.  This program, which is especially important to underserved communities, included almost 2,000 events and 23,000 registered youth participants.  The Wonders of Wheels mobile museum delivered in-person programming to 8606 children in every county of the state, featuring photography, music, art, and hands on educational activities.  This year the Poet Laureate, Lauren Camp, even joined the WoW team for readings at libraries around the state. 

Early Childhood Education

The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) supports early childhood literacy and bilingual literacy through programs that engage families in reading, art, music, play, and cultural empathy.  These programs give parents a chance to form supportive networks and give children a chance to learn social skills.     

The New Mexico History Museum’s Hochberg Early Childhood Academy offers museum visits and educational programs to Head Start and Santa Fe Public School preschoolers and their families, allowing them the opportunity to explore and engage in hands-on history. 

The Museum of International Folk Art provided monthly Family Mornings to support early education and early literacy, focusing on pre-literacy skills and building cultural empathy, while creating a safe and welcoming environment for parents and their young children to build social skills and social networks. The National Hispanic Cultural Center provides monthly programs for children from infants to 4 years old and their caregivers to provide bilingual introductory arts experiences and social interaction.  Their Early Childhood Bilingual Storytime for children 3 to 5 years old offers literary and arts experiences through story, music, movement, creative play, and artmaking. 

Career Exploration

The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) provides many opportunities for young people to develop interests and learn about careers in a variety of art, history, science, and culture fields.    

The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum provides many opportunities to introduce young people to careers in agriculture, working closely with schools and organizations like 4-H to provide hands-on learning.  The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science partnered with the Franklin Institute to offer students a summer program to increase interest and confidence in pursuing STEM Careers, geared to communities commonly underrepresented in STEM professions. 

In the Spring the New Mexico Museum of Space History collaborated with school districts on a downlink with the International Space Station astronauts.  Students had an opportunity to learn what it was like to live on the Space Station and ask the astronauts questions.  The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science held Mars Day on May 5, featuring 13 Mars Mission planners and scientists from the Jet Propulsion Lab with 554 students and 30 teachers attending.  

Teacher Development

The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) works hands-on with teachers and future-teachers to develop classroom skills that incorporate New Mexican culture and primary resources into the curriculum.   

DCA Education staff provide professional development to current and future teachers.  Students from the New Mexico State University Education Program come to the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum to learn how to incorporate museum-style activities into their classroom.  They review best teaching practices and learn strategies for using cross-curricular activities to improve collaboration, speaking, reading, and writing skills.  The New Mexico History Museum works with the Santa Fe Community College to offer practicum credit hours to those seeking Early Childhood Education Certificate.   The New Mexico Museum of Art is expanding its online resources to tell New Mexico’s history through art and primary sources in the collection.  Working closely with teachers on an advisory panel, this project supports the incorporation of art in lesson plans and student projects.  The New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies creates curriculum content resources, including lessons tied to state standards, making it easy for teachers to incorporate into the classroom.