New Mexico judge halts state mandate for school districts to adopt calendars with more school days

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. mandate / ˈmæn deɪt / (n.) – an official order or requirement to do an action

    The government issued a mandate requiring everyone to wear face masks in public spaces.

  2. injunction / ɪnˈdʒʌŋk ʃən / (n.) – an order from a court of law, usually to stop someone from doing something

    The judge issued an injunction against the use of harmful chemicals in products used by children.

  3. intent / ɪnˈtɛnt / (n.) – the action or goal that someone/something wants to achieve

    The intent of the memo was to inform employees of the changes in the company policies.

  4. contend / kənˈtɛnd / (v.) – to argue or say something in a strong way

    Some managers contend that the new policy would negatively affect the employees’ productivity.

  5. comply / kəmˈplaɪ / (v.) – to do or follow a given order or request

    The company failed to comply with the contract terms.


Read the text below.

A new mandate that requires school districts across New Mexico to adopt calendars that consist of at least 180 days was put on hold by a judge while he considers the change’s legality.

Dozens of school districts and superintendents have been challenging the state Public Education Department over the change. Teacher unions and Republican lawmakers also have raised concerns about the rule.

In granting the school districts’ request for a preliminary injunction, Judge Dustin Hunter said the rule undermined the Legislature’s intent when it adopted legislation in 2023 that called for extending the number of hours children spend in the classroom and the time teachers have for professional development. 

“If the Legislature had intended to expand the number of days with all the accompanying costs—such as transportation and food and specialty providers such as special education and everything else—it necessarily would have provided the funding or given clear guidance as to why it was unable to,” Hunter said.

The plaintiffs had argued that the requirement would result in budget shortfalls, particularly for districts that have operated on four-day weeks for decades.

“There are 89 different stories in 89 different districts and 89 different ways of getting good education to kids,” testified Stan Rounds, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition of Education Leaders. “They are very different. One size does not fit all.”

State officials contend the change will ultimately improve educational outcomes.

Holly Agajanian, the chief general counsel for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, argued that the school districts would not be harmed if the state is allowed to move forward with implementing the mandate pending a ruling on the merits of the case.

She said the districts could submit budgets with two alternative calendars—one complying with the 180-day rule and one assuming the school does not need to meet the mandate if the districts win their case.

Agajanian told the court that although there have been substantial comments about the rule, the court “should not view it as the opinion of the public, especially when balancing harms.”

Attorneys for the school districts said 98% of the thousands of public comments were against the rule.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • New Mexico has a mandate for school districts to implement a minimum of 180-school-day calendar. In your country, do you think students and their families will embrace this mandate? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Do you think teachers and school employees in your country will accept a longer school-day calendar? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do you think having more school days would improve educational outcomes? Why do you think so? Discuss.
  • If you were still a high school student, would you rather have fewer school days or more school days? Why? Discuss.