Regis Pecos, left, co-director of the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School, shares notes with Gail Evans during a presentation about improving education for indigenous communities at the Santa Ana Casino ballroom on Tuesday, July 23.

For the start of the school year, Searchlight New Mexico is publishing interviews with four leading education activists. The conversations span the gamut from language immersion to teacher shortages, child trauma and what it takes to finally reform New Mexico’s schools.

Because the crisis in education goes to the heart of practically every problem we face in New Mexico. A now 14-month-old ruling by a state district judge declared the school system so flawed as to be unconstitutional. The demand for change has never been greater, as illustrated by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s abrupt firing of Education Secretary Karen Trujillo after a mere six months on the job.

The education leaders interviewed here have long wrestled with these issues and have outspoken thoughts about the path forward. Their interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity.