In late October, a New Mexico state court judge denied the state’s motion to dismiss an action filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) challenging New Mexico’s failure to provide its schoolchildren with adequate educational funding. MALDEF had filed the suit in April on behalf of economically disadvantaged, special education and English language learner students, alleging that the state’s funding scheme violates the New Mexico state constitution by failing to provide these students with appropriate educational supports. The state moved to dismiss the action in June on the grounds that, among other things, plaintiffs lacked standing and had failed to state a claim for which the court was competent to grant relief.
In denying the state’s motion to dismiss, the court explicitly rejected the state’s claim that the entire New Mexico public school system would be forced to shut down if the current funding scheme were ruled unconstitutional. The state court judge also explicitly affirmed that education is a fundamental right in New Mexico, stating: “Frankly, its hard not to think of a more important service that the state provides its citizens than the fundamental right to an education. An educated populace is not only fundamental to our current well-being but our future well-being.”