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Published On: Tue, Aug 14th, 2012

Navajo Nation and New Mexico to sign ‘MOU’ for Education

Aug 14 | by: NP Field Reporter/NM

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, and New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera, sign the MOU at Indian Hills Elementary School, in Gallup, NM. Governor Martinez read to the entire first grade class at Indian Hills Elementary. (Sam Tsosie/The Navajo Post)

ALBUQUERQUE – On Tuesday, the NM Governor, Susana Martinez visited Mesa View Elementary School in Grants and Indian Hills Elementary School in Gallup to distribute reading books to incoming first graders and read to students.

Susana Martinez said, while addressing the crowd, “ With this MOU we send a clear message to the Native American student, you count you are important.. and most of all we believe in you” 

President Ben Shelly also spoke and said, “  Our culture is our identity to the world and our language is our fingerprint” and “ I am happy that Governor Martinez and (NM Education) Secretary Skandera have taken on the vision of our people”

The Governor also signed a memorandum of understanding between New Mexico Public Education Department and the Navajo Nation, which will allow for data sharing between the two governments with the aim of improving education results for Navajo students.

On Monday, Martinez distributed books and read to students in Albuquerque and Belen.  The Governor Communication director said, she is stressing the importance of reading during and after school, and the books are designed to help students have something to read at home with their family or friends in an effort to overcome the effects of the “summer slide” – skills lost while kids are out of the classroom during the summer months.

(Related Article: New Mexico shifting towards a more Business friendly Environment)

In June, Governor Martinez announced that the state had purchased over 30,000 reading books to be distributed to every incoming first grade student in New Mexico.

The Navajo Nation in general has been getting donated books from various non profit organizations, For the past three years, Navajo Nation Libraries have been flying across the country to Massachusetts to pick-up book donations from Reader to Reader, a Massachusetts literacy organization that has donated over $1 million in books and computers to schools and libraries on the Navajo Nation. The twice a year trips brought back over 30,000 books and 42 Dell computers this past year alone.

President Shelly signs MOU with New Mexico Gov. Photo by: Erny Zah.The proposed Navajo Nation annual budget for 2012-2013 will slash theses trips from two to one, and will also reduce the size of the truck in the sole remaining shipment from 26-foot to only 17-foot. The change in truck size will cut that shipment in half due to the lower weight limit of the truck.

Reader to Reader founder David Mazor said this budget reduction will mean 25,000 fewer books will be donated by his organization this coming year to meet the needs of the children and adults on the Navajo Nation, “We will be unable to send thousands of books given out by the First Lady Martha Shelly in her important literacy work thousands of new books to fill the shelves of the Navajo Nation Library and their branch library in Kayenta, and also the thousands of books for schools, chapter houses, correctional facilities, community centers, boys & girls clubs, and substance abuse centers.”


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Navajo Nation and New Mexico to sign ‘MOU’ for Education