Funding issues put pre-K providers at odds while young children miss out on early education

ANTHONY — A tall chain-link fence splits the preschool campus behind Anthony Elementary in southern New Mexico: federally funded classrooms on one side, state-funded classrooms on the other. The fence serves as a literal and symbolic divide segregating two sets of classrooms outfitted with the same child-size tables, chairs and toys; two sets of highly trained teachers; two separate playgrounds — and a bitter competition for 4-year-old children. As New Mexico has expanded early education for toddlers over the past decade, the state has created a system that bars providers from mixing state and federal funds in the same classroom. It’s a policy – not a law – that effectively separates kids into rival programs, often divided by income. Head Start serves the lowest income families in New Mexico; the state programs serve families from a range of income levels.

Report: Education in NM improving, poverty getting worse

A report found that New Mexico is improving in several areas of education and the economy but struggles in child hunger and poverty. The 2015 New Mexico Progress Report, which was put together by New Mexico First, looked at four overall areas: Education, health, economy and water. Of those, New Mexico has seen improvement in some areas, while it is getting worse in others. While the state is seeing gains in household income and unemployment, poverty and child hunger continue to get worse. Still, New Mexico First President Heather Balas was optimistic about New Mexico’s direction.