New Mexico AG Takes Over Yazzie v : AG Ral Torrez of New Mexico will take over the Yazzie v. Martinez lawsuit to expedite changes to the state’s education system for Native American and minority children. The case, brought years ago, led to a ruling stating New Mexico didn’t provide adequate education to Native Americans and other students. The news came shortly after Torrez met with Pueblo’s governors. The governors were frustrated with the slow progress.
“The Yazzie v. Martinez case revealed issues with the state’s education system,” Torrez said. It set a precedent for Native American and other minority students. Native American leaders claim that despite spending millions and making some small changes, progress has been slow, leaving recent graduates without benefiting from improvements.
The Acoma Pueblo governor, Randall Vicente, was pleased with the move. Vicente hopes for policies, education programs, and funding for our children’s education.
The attorney general’s office said Torrez and his civil rights team met with lawyers for the plaintiffs, including the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, and advocates who wrote a plan for Native students. Gov. Lujan Grisham joined the preliminary talks. Initially, she sought to dismiss the case in 2020 but now backs her administration’s efforts.
Native American leaders are frustrated by the slow pace of change. Despite collaborating with Native American tribes last summer to expand pre-K programs, leaders argue that the state legislature’s efforts and funding remain insufficient. The state’s Public school Department still needs to finish its plan for the school lawsuit.
It’s early to predict the attorney general’s impact, but advocates are prepared to collaborate with the state for results. Low-income students and ESL learners are also involved in the case.
New Mexico’s low test scores, graduation rates, and limited resource access have kept it at the bottom of the nation’s education rankings. Melissa Candelaria from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty criticized the state for wasting money defending the current system instead of addressing and resolving its underlying problems.
Advocates have spoken with kids, parents, and teachers across New Mexico. Concerns persist about teacher shortages, inadequate tools, limited technology and Internet access, and insufficient culturally appropriate teaching materials. The news is a significant step in fixing the state’s failing education system, giving hope to advocates and tribal leaders.