NM Public Schools Are Missing 12K Students and They Want Them Back. Is It All About the Money?

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Public schools have had a chance to evaluate student attendance data and have found “missing students” between the Spring and Fall semesters of this school year.  You might ask why they are concerned about this fact. Is it because they are concerned about students who are not getting an education? Is it because they feel the need to “protect” those students?

Or, is it because they will lose money without students in attendance? It may be some of each, but the last question could be the primary motivation for state public education departments to do a canvas of attendance over the Fall semester.

And of course, don’t forget indoctrination. That’s a lot more difficult when the kids are being educated outside “the system.”

Why do public education departments care so much? Follow the money.

Public schools receive their funding from a number of sources, most of which comes from the local (44%) and state (48%) property taxes. Federal government (8%) funding is designated to serve disadvantaged populations, including families in poverty, students who have special needs, a student population of English language learners, and teacher quality improvement programs, seen in the form of grants. (Source)

Each state has its own funding formula, but in my state, the money is allocated by the legislature and based upon a number of factors, the largest of which is student enrollment.


Well, as you can imagine, COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on student enrollment and attendance.  Many of the school districts in my state elected to do school entirely online. As a result, some parents have decided to homeschool, others don’t have reliable internet and their children cannot consistently attend online classes, and others may have left the state as their jobs evaporated with the lockdowns.

What drives getting students back into the system?

The NM Public Education Department (PED) wants to know where they’ve gone and wants to woo them back with a program called Engage NM.  Now, this program sounds quite altruistic and is funded through a partnership with NM PED and Graduation Alliance.  Graduation Alliance operates primarily in New Mexico, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, Washington, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, and some school districts in Texas. Its aim is to enroll students who have dropped out of school into their accredited online program. That’s an interesting twist. Why would a public education department promote enrolling its own students in an out-of-state program that is free of charge?

In an article posted on KOAT, the New Mexico Public Education Department reveals, over 12,000 of students enrolled in the spring, have now “gone missing,” and with them the funding they generated.

“We’ve had a chance to cross reference the data when it comes to student rosters,” said NMPED cabinet secretary Ryan Stewart.

PED leaders said there are about 330,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in New Mexico, but they estimate more than 12,000 have stopped attending class during the pandemic.

“We know that not every family has reported to the Public Education Department or if they’ve taken their student out of the public education setting,” Stewart said.

As part of a program called Engage New Mexico, PED is trying to track down these students to get them back to class in the Spring. PED is partnering with groups like CYFD and the Graduation Alliance.

“Next steps is identifying and supporting these students to make sure they are in the proper educational setting through direct outreach, through cross checking our database of information,” Stewart said.

Through Engage New Mexico, students will get an academic coach, help connecting to resources, and help with a plan to get on track and finish the year strong.

“We’re also looking to leverage our local contacts and our community relationships to find and support these students,” Stewart said.

PED officials said their goal is not to punish students, but to meet their promise to educate every New Mexican child.

How are your tax dollars being spent?

This begs the question, where does Graduation Alliance get its funding? Is there a split of federal and state education dollars between your state public education department and Graduation Alliance? Does your state share your property tax dollars with a private online education entity? Why is Graduation Alliance the approved and free “online education” source?  If Graduation Alliance can be free, why can’t an online curriculum you choose as a homeschooler be free, too?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but perhaps some of you do.

What do you think?

What do you think about this? Do you think those students are being homeschooled outside the system? What about groups like Graduation Alliance? Share your comments below.

About Linnea

Linnea Johnson has her MA in Curriculum and Instruction and has taught preschool students through adults on topics including music, English as a 2nd language, technology, business, and personal finance.  She now works in technical business development with universities.  She and her husband homeschooled their two active sons, who went on to careers in mechanical engineering and entrepreneurship. Her greatest joy is spending time with her family, cultivating a little urban farm, and traveling with her husband of 31 years.

Linnea Johnson

Linnea Johnson

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  • Put it down as another one of those if it hadn’t been for 2020 and you told me that the NEA (National Education Association) was pushing and publishing a racist and communist curriculum along with thousands of pages of supporting “educational” material I would have thought you were off your rocker.

    We know that many schools are focusing on indoctrination programs and the Covid19 pandemic has driven a lot of kids out of the classroom. Many of them are home schooled and a lot of other areas have adopted online / remote programs. A side not on those, I understand that many districts sent home papers trying to get parents to promise not to listen in on or get involved in what their children were being taught online. The question is why, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the intent is likely nefarious.

    So, yes, I believe it is a combination of wanting the dollars associated with butts in the seats and control. As a certain right wing alternate media personality once put it on a segment regarding education, it’s called “Open Brain, Insert Ideology”

  • If a person looks at the history of government sponsored public education, particularly in the US, they will find that it has always been about indoctrination. First it was to make sure of a supply of good factory workers, then it expanded its goals. Ironically, even though I was home schooled and then sent to a private high school, I didn’t learn this till I grew up and truly started studying history. Having a spouse who might as well be a history professor, with an incredibly deep grasp of the subject, really helps too.

    As for why public schools want to track down their students? I’m sure that on an individual level it’s sometimes about caring for the child but ultimately it’s all about money.

  • of course they are being home schooled. the leftist school system has destroyed itself and no longer educates, but, rather brain washes. parents home school rather than submit to programming by government agenda driven nut cases

    • Not just home schooling. There are parents that have moved their children to various charter and private schools as well. Many are finding their kids are not get the education they thought their children were getting. In 1982 the American school’s switched from excellence bar none to functionality where they can read the signs, but not critical thinking. The kids today are learning a lot less than we did. Not to mention civics was taken out of schools….how the government is suppose to run. Then there are many parents are finding out their kids are being bullied for being white or Asian.

  • I’m sure it’s a mix. In my neighborhood, when schools went to online, a lot of kids simply didn’t do anything. They spent all day playing outside on dirtbikes. I’m not exaggerating, it was like 6 to 8 hours a day of harassing my dogs with their dirtbikes until the police were called. A lot of people treat public school like free child care, and when that’s off, they just don’t care. I think a lot of low-income kids are really going to be screwed in the long term by the school shutdowns.

    I do know some people have gotten more interested in homeschooling. And I think that’s why the public school system is tracking them down. I know a lot of individual teachers genuinely care about students, but the administrative structure is about power and control. Honestly it was a public school teacher that first made me seriously consider homeschooling. She wasn’t trying to; she was talking about the way teachers are trained to morally influence children and it creeped me out.

  • Every school district divide’s its funding by the number of students being educated in that district/state/locality (depending on division in each state) and some of that money is from state and federal funding. One of the factors involved in the funding is the graduation rate of a combination of individual schools and districts. The higher the graduation rate, the more funding the schools get.

    Graduation Alliance gets its funding from the states it has contracts with. It’s actually a good system for the states because they pay only for students from their state who graduate. Which will make Graduation Alliance pretty focused on keeping the students engaged until graduation.

    I spent the majority of my career working with low income students. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that most (if not all) of these missing students are low income. There are many reasons why they could be “missing”.

    With the status of job loss right now, the kids who are 16 and older are probably working to help support their families because the parents either don’t have a job or have had their hours cut.

    Some may not be attending because they are watching younger siblings while the parent(s) are working.

    Others could be missing because they don’t have the ability to connect online because they lack devices and/or internet connection.

    There are smaller numbers of kids who decided they no longer want school but have not officially dropped out.

    Sometimes kids are lost when the parent moves to a new school district and the student just doesn’t attend or the school district doesn’t request records from the previous school district.

    If the missing student is not low income, the parents may be homeschooling the child without notifing the school district.

    Of course students not low income could fall into any of the above descriptions.

  • Its not only about the money, its all about the city and state dictated corrupt agenda to teach a conditioned core of primary education that will be pointed at in the not to distant future as the singular reason for the downfall of America.

    My wife is a home school evaluator and she says that the only good thing that may come from this illegally driven totalitarianism is the ground swell of new home schoolers. Lets hope the woke trend of realizing the toxicity of public indoctrination grows the number of children given a second chance at a real education.

  • My grandsons are being homeschooled for different reasons. First is that one child has a medical problem that makes him high risk and the school is basically doing nothing to mitigate Covid spread. No masks, No distancing, but they will shut down when 1/3 of the students test positive. He’s at risk as is the baby brother with asthma.

    The program they had in place last year was chaos largely because half the kids no showed the online classes. My grandsons read and do math at a higher level then the school can accommodate. The school asked if they would sign up for the school’s homeschooling program but they wanted to choose their own program because they wanted the kids to learn at their own pace.

    Homeschooling is a Godsend this year. Not to mention the 2 hours a day on the bus saved. Music class includes church songs, Thanksgiving included learning about the actual reason of giving thanks for what we have, and doesn’t include political indoctrination, and they’re learning at their own pace.

    My daughter’s teacher shared with the class that there was no (well I’ll call him St Nick.) I still want to smack her. Not all teachers are bad though. We have had some good as well but you kind of remember the evil ones. Homeschooling only includes my daughter and son-in-laws values.

  • I am totally for homeschooling! Seems most were forced into with Covid one way or another. I know when Mom’s aren’t home and have to work which is a very unfortunate situation these days. Moms should be home but it’s a rotton world these days and the only thing we can do as families is try to live in a small city/county where we can afford possibly some land and house and not try to always keep up with the “jones”…so to speak. But many just can’t do this especially single moms.
    As far as what the school’s motive is I am certain it is MONEY…they don’t get money when the student is not there..

  • My grandson aged out of public school here in NM. Almost functionally illiterate. He’s been educating himself for a year. He’s learned to read write and speak Brazilian Portuguese and reads fair Chinese and understands more than he speaks right now. His reading and writing skills are now quite good. Math is getting well into colIege leval. Schools didn’t care to make it interesting and didn’t care if he cut most classes. He’s mostly Native American. Skin color was a problem. Not in all classrooms but in too many.
    I wish I’d been in position to educate him at home. I home educated my younger children then opened a K-12 mission school that I ran for 22.5 school years. Why? I saw what my older sons were being taught and I was angry! I saw whole segments of classrooms ignored because of race or poor English that was easily improvable. They were bi- or even tri-lingual. That isn’t dumb… they just hadn’t been exposed to larger vocabularies in English.
    Most have no access to internet and many homes don’t own a computer. Poorer parents are intimidated by technology and how many can apply logic to new math? They struggle to feed and clothe kids. They barely keep an older vehicle on the road.
    We now also see many students that are homeless. Living with a parent in a car. A few make it and get educated living living like that. Most don’t!
    I’ve given given away several computers to help kids do homework before this pandemic. I gave away a lot of dictionaries also. I’d buy them cheap in yardsales or secondhand stores. Teens who were interested were given scratch cookbooks too. We’ve helped some learn mechanics, and construction. Some who at the time wanted to earn a living doing old style silver and stone jewelry we given a set of tools and a gas bottle with the needed tip. If they learned and began working we gave it to them along with a 6″x10″ sheet of 18 ga sterling silver. Today its quite expensive doing silver so many are doing copper or silver and copper. One student earned the old car and a set of tools after he got the car running. Kids that struggled were given incentives. Good students were in Whos Who Books and earned scholarships. Many have become entrapanures, nurses, cooks, a scientist inventer, construction workers, pastors, et. Some were happier with a vocation and some worked to get college educations.
    To keep students in school we picked up many at their home and brought them to school. Working parents couldn’t get them here every day. Some were literally too poor to make the drive every day.
    Today with businesses closed and lockdowns its worse.

  • It’s all about the Benjamins and indoctrination.

    I survived working in a “woke” district as a school social worker for 3 years, and then I had to get out. A group of seasoned, caring teachers retired early the same year, because they refused to get on board with the narrative.

    Ever since then, any time a parent would tell me that they were thinking about homeschooling, I did everything I could to encourage them: hook them up with resources and groups, discuss how learning in the real world with family and friends who care, researching local school districts’ hoops and regulations to help them wade through red tape.

  • Indoctrination, for sure. The longer kids spend in the real world with adults who are bending and breaking rules in order to successfully navigate life within the latest color coded order from some stranger in Santa Fe, the more critical thought those kids will bring back to the classroom.
    Or to their day jobs, where they experience contracts between individuals.
    Or to their futures, which they might now be allowed to determine on their own.
    May they flourish 🙂

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