Debate Grows Over Hispanic Education Act

New Mexico – Some legislators are asking whether a Hispanic Education Act proposed by Gov. Bill Richardson this week is even necessary.

Public Education Secretary Veronica Garcia says the proposed act is needed to close an achievement gap for Hispanics. They make up 56 percent of New Mexican students.

Should the proposal become law, the Public Education Department says it would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Republican Sen. Vernon Asbill of Carlsbad says the department already has authority to focus on Hispanic students. He says a separate act is unnecessary.

Republican Rep. Dennis Roch of Tucumcari says much of what is proposed is already being done by schools.

Garcia says she hopes to have a proposal ready for the Legislature by January.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.