Rep. Lente: Veto on Bill to Help Native American Students Succeed Shortsighted

Santa Fe, NM – On Wednesday evening, Governor Martinez failed Native American students by vetoing a bill that would have increased their graduation rates and academic success. House Bill 484 sponsor, Representative Derrick Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo) and Chairwoman Debra Haaland, the first Native American to chair a major state party, were disappointed that the Governor refused to invest in education and improve outcomes for the 35,000-plus Native American students who attend public schools. 

“New Mexico will not be able to get out of this mess unless we invest in our people and this veto on a bill to help Native American students succeed is shortsighted,” said Derrick Lente. “This veto does a disservice to Native students across our State. This initiative is important and I will continue to push for it until we see success.”

Rep. Lente’s bill, HB 484, would have provided a mechanism for school districts, teachers, parents, tribes, and students to work together to ensure Native American students from kindergarten to high school receive services to improve graduation rates, college and workforce readiness. Currently, an average of 27 percent of Indian students are proficient in reading, 10 percent in math, 22 percent in science which is coupled with an alarming 60 percent dropout rate. 

“It appears that Governor Martinez can’t see past her nose when it comes to making decisions. Representative Lente’s bill would have invested in the education of our young people to guarantee a bright future for New Mexico.” said Debra Haaland. “When Native American students see success, they will be able to create jobs, improve our communities, and lead as an example for future generations.”