U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) applauded over $2.6 million in federal funding awarded to the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) to help provide online career and technical education (CTE) opportunities for high school students.
In New Mexico, more than two-thirds of all students take a CTE course in high school, with roughly 20 percent concentrating on this college and career pathway. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have faced added burdens in accessing CTE educational content. NMPED will use the grant funding to develop the New Mexico Ready and Equitable Career and Technical Education program, which will provide high school students with an online CTE curriculum. The curriculum will integrate regional workplace needs into the program's content to better prepare students to successfully enter the state's changing workforce.
The New Mexico delegation sent a letter of support to the Department of Education (ED) in July to reinforce NMPED's strong candidacy for the grant award program.
"I commend the New Mexico Public Education Department for their innovative adaptation to online and distance learning during this unprecedented time, and for their focus on proactive workforce development that will prepare New Mexico students for a successful future," said Udall. "I will be doing everything I can in Washington to make sure that New Mexico schools and students get the resources they need to continue their education."
"All New Mexico students need access to online educational resources," said Heinrich. "I applaud the New Mexico Public Education Department for their continued efforts to help high school students develop workforce skills offered through online CTE curriculum and welcome this funding that will connect more students during the pandemic, and after. I will keep working to support programs and funding that bridge the digital divide for students in New Mexico, and create more opportunities across our state's diverse workforce."
Career and technical education expands opportunities for New Mexico students by growing their skillsets and preparing students for a competitive workforce. I am proud that this funding will go toward making CTE more accessible and addressing barriers that students are facing during this pandemic," said Luján. "CTE students go on to become health, business, and public service leaders, and it's crucial that their potential is empowered."
"The next generation of innovators in our state will move our country and our economy to the next level, but right now our kids are experiencing an opportunity and skills gap that puts them behind when competing for the jobs of the future. I've spoken to parents, teachers and students in my district and many times the only access to technology students have is provided at school. With this federal funding, NMPED's online CTE program will connect local high schools, training facilities, community colleges, and universities, so New Mexico kids have the skills they need to achieve success at the tech jobs right here in New Mexico," said Haaland.
"In the face of a changing job landscape, the New Mexico Public Education Department is proactively working to support students across New Mexico and set them up for success. As our community recovers and rebuilds, I'm fighting for resources across the district to unlock opportunities for generations to come," said Torres Small.
NMPED won the competitive $2,672,460 grant as one of just six state educational agencies from the "Expanding Access to Well-Rounded Courses Demonstration Grants Program". The grant is an ED funding opportunity that state educational agencies can apply for in order to develop or expand and implement models for providing well-rounded educational opportunities through increased course access for all students, including rural, disadvantaged, or those with disabilities.