Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Sen. Ben Ray Luján, Wilhelmina Yazzie, join tribal leaders in Espanola for 'United for a Brighter Future' event to support the Vote Yes for Kids campaign

Leaders discussed the importance of investing in early childhood education


August 24, 2022

ESPANOLA, N.M. — Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D- N.M.), joined by Wilhelmina Yazzie, students, community members, and Tribal leaders gathered at YDI Head Start to announce their support of the passage of Constitutional Amendment 1 this November. Sen. Luján and tribal leaders visited a classroom and then addressed a crowd of advocates and community members to discuss the importance of early childhood education for rural, Tribal, and Hispanic communities in Northern New Mexico.

“As a Head Start alumnus, I know how critical early childhood education is for the well-being of our children and the future of our state. I’ve been proud to champion investments for education throughout my time in office, and I encourage all New Mexicans to support the passage of Constitutional Amendment #1,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján. “New Mexico children deserve every opportunity to learn and thrive, and these investments will help make that a reality.”

Wilhelmina Yazzie, a Diné mother of three and the original plaintiff in the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit against the state of New Mexico, joined Sen. Luján to express her support for the passage of the ballot question.

“Indigenous students have been overlooked for too long. The State of New Mexico has an obligation to provide all students with an education that meets their needs and gives them a fair shot at success. Passing Constitutional Amendment 1 gives us voters a chance to provide a long-term, permanent funding source for education to make sure kids like mine can have every opportunity to succeed while honoring our language and traditions.”

The Yazzie-Martinez vs. New Mexico lawsuit found the state failed to provide an adequate education to low-income, Native American, English language learner (ELL), and students with disabilities. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor of the families and school districts involved in the case and ordered the state to take action to correct these failures. Increased funding toward education could support better educational opportunities for at-risk students in New Mexico.

Additional guests in attendance were Vice Chairman of All Pueblo Council of Governors, Jerome Lucero; Lt. Governor of Santa Clara Pueblo James Naranjo; Former Governor of Acoma Pueblo Brian Vallo; Director of Youth and Learning, and Head Start at Santa Clara Pueblo, Jeremy Oyenque, and advocates from Dreams in Action, Somos Accion, OLE, and New Mexico Native Vote.

Robert Chavez, YDI CEO introduced Sen. Luján, stating, “Vote Yes For Kids is an important initiative and I’m grateful to Sen. Luján for championing early childhood education. It was my pleasure to welcome the senator into our school today.”

RJ Martinez, Early Childhood Program Coordinator at the LANL Foundation also spoke, sharing that “the future success of any community depends on its ability to foster the well-being of its children. Research has shown that supporting healthy, early childhood care and education services for children zero to five produces substantial educational, social, economic, and emotional benefits for children and their communities. I encourage all of us to learn more about the possibilities passing this constitutional amendment can provide to all of our children.”

This November, New Mexico voters have the opportunity to approve Constitutional Amendment #1 to allocate roughly $150 million from the state’s Permanent School Fund every year to the Early Childhood Education and Care Department for early childhood education and about $100 million to the Public Education Department to improve educational outcomes for at-risk students. In March 2021, the New Mexico Legislature passed House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR1), a historic resolution proposing a state constitutional amendment to the voters to invest the state’s permanent funds into education programs.

If approved, this would bring transformational change and level the playing field for hardworking New Mexico families, giving all of our kids, regardless of family income, a fair shot at educational success.

Vote YES for Kids! is a New Mexico Political Action Committee organized to inform voters about Constitutional Amendment#1 that will appear on the November general election ballot. Learn more at


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