Martínez v. State of New Mexico: The Right to a Sufficient Education

Diana Torres-Velásquez


Plaintiffs in the Martínez v. State of New Mexico lawsuit are 51 students, parents, and guardians from seven public school districts across New Mexico. This is a school finance case that goes beyond seeking more funds for public education to arguing that providing a sufficient education for New Mexico’s 338,307 students enrolled during the 2016-2017 school year (New Mexico Public Education Department, 2017) involves more than increasing the amount of money allocated for pupils across its 89 school districts. Although the plaintiffs in this case represent low-income and high-need families of many ethnic backgrounds in New Mexico, students who are English Language Learners, and students with disabilities, the outcome has the potential to affect every student, teacher, and administrator in the state. The trial will begin on June 12th of 2017. When the case was originally filed in 2014, New Mexico’s Public Education Department (NMPED)—the defendants in this case—immediately countered with a motion to dismiss. In October of 2014, as First District Court Chief Judge Sarah Singleton rejected the motion to dismiss, she also used the opportunity to declare public education a fundamental right in New Mexico. Martínez v State of New Mexico (2014a) has the potential to transform not only the definition of equal protection and educational equity under the law, but also to correct the discriminatory and punitive practices of current reform agendas. The author examines the possibilities of law as a form of social resistance using Martínez v. State of New Mexico (2014a)—a legal case on school finance—and the concept of sufficient education as guaranteed by the New Mexico State Constitution.

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