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Leger Fernández: “The funds we authorize today are an investment in our future - an investment in our children”

February 9, 2021

WASHINGTONToday, Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández delivered remarks during her first House Committee on Education and Labor markup for the FY21 budget resolution.

The Congresswoman put New Mexico’s children front and center to emphasize the need for bold COVID relief. She closed her remarks calling on her colleagues to listen to their hearts and act from a place of love for their communities.

Video of Congresswoman Leger Fernández’s remarks is available here. Below are excerpts.

Rep. Leger Fernandez on the House Committee on Education and Labor Markup

On the need to support teachers through the pandemic

“Teachers have taken on the enormous task of teaching hybrid, remote, and in-person in the middle of a pandemic. They teach without sufficient resources and often worry about their safety.  It is our job to support them.”

“In New Mexico, I expect the state Department of Education to prioritize spending on those most at risk students, to prioritize the Yazzie remedies. Our Yazzie v. Martinez students must have an adequate education and these funds can help.”

On funding the Bureau of Indian Education

“We also desperately need the $850 million included in the bill for schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Education and the $10 million for Native American languages.”

“Let me be clear: we’ve underfunded BIE for years and many Native American students were falling behind even before the pandemic. This emergency BIE funding is overdue, because we have failed to live up to our trust obligations for too long.”

On child poverty in New Mexico

“One out of every three children in my state lives in poverty. Let that sink in. 1 in 3. These are children of working parents in NM who don’t have access to reliable, quality, affordable childcare. It affects our economy and child development.

“This bill allocates a much needed $39 billion to childcare providers; prioritizes assistance to families who otherwise cannot afford tuition; and provides $1 billion to Head Start to make sure we care for young children in a safe and nurturing environment.  As a little girl, I attended Head Start where I fell in love with learning - let’s make sure all children have that same opportunity.”

“Students can’t learn if they are hungry. New Mexico has one of the highest child food insecurity rates in the nation--one out of every four children struggle with hunger. […] If we listen to our hearts and act from a place of love for our communities, we know that we must help the hungriest families put food on the table.”