PUBLIC EDUCATION DEPARTMENT NEWS
The Public Education Department today announced the launch of a multi-year program to encourage and train educators across New Mexico to engage more deeply with families through home visits, ongoing communication, relationship building and intentional academic partnership.
With $1.5 million from the state’s federal pandemic response funds allocated to support family engagement programming, the department will offer free professional development to New Mexico schools and districts beginning next spring. That would equip educators with the skills, information and resources they need to launch home visits next summer.
The goal is to promote student success in school and beyond through improved communication and equitable partnerships between educators and the families of students.
“Education is not something children are sent off to receive from strangers. Families must be part of the equation,” said Kurt Steinhaus, who takes over Aug. 21 as the Public Education Department’s secretary designate. “For students to fully succeed, all the adults in their lives — at home and at school — need to come together as equal partners.
“I can’t think of a better time than during this Year of Literacy to launch this opportunity for deeper family engagement. Home visits have a demonstrated impact on reducing chronic absenteeism, while increasing literacy rates. There is a research-based argument supporting the science of relationships and promoting home visits across grade levels. Simply put – relationships matter,” Steinhaus said.
The department is currently accepting proposals through the state procurement process to hire a contractor to design and implement the professional learning series, which will be offered to public schools and districts in New Mexico at no cost.
The professional training is part of a multi-year plan to scale up family engagement programming. In the initial stages, the department will conduct listening sessions with families and educators across New Mexico and offer leadership development and networking opportunities, capacity building and support.
“Families deserve to be seen, heard, and respected for the experts they are throughout the educational journey of their child. And children deserve to see their entire village (school and home) working together in support of their success,” said Katherine Avery, director of Strategic Outreach at the department. “One positive note we heard over the course of the pandemic was that folks – teachers and families – were grateful for the opportunity to deepen their engagement. Where engagement was strong, it showed.”
The Public Education Department launched NMengaged.com several years ago, as a framework for districts and schools to promote and support family engagement in their communities. The upcoming, federally funded work will build on those efforts and bolster engagement practices statewide.