There are great books produced in New Mexico and the Governor and the State Department of Education (NMPED) should not buy books for 1st graders from other states if suitable books are already available in New Mexico.
The issue is not whether books should be distributed free for 1st graders; giving first grade students a book to read is a very good idea. But rather New Mexico tax money should be used for books by New Mexicans whenever possible. This is the basic premise of any “Support Local” program.
Last year, the Governor and the NMPED spent over $200,000 and gave 30,000 books to first graders. The majority of money was used to purchase books from an Illinois book publisher; only about 20% of the books purchased were from NM (all from UNM Press).
This year two New Mexico book publishers submitted proposals for enough books to cover the entire project – 30,000 books. The State turned down both proposals. But the same Illinois publisher got the contract again. There may be other winners of the contract but to date NMPED will not disclose who won. LPD Press/Rio Grande Books submitted “How Hollyhocks Came To New Mexico” by Rudolfo Anaya. Enchantment Lane submitted “Oso Bear’s Spanish/English Primer.” Both are award-winning books specially designed for first grade students in New Mexico.
If the State believes in “Support Local” then they should have used that in part of the selection process. If good books are available from local publishers then there should be no need to go to publishers from other states to fulfill this program. Both these books also were about New Mexico with New Mexico authors and illustrators. None of the books from the Illinois publisher have anything to do with New Mexico.