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Proposal Would Tie Drivers Licenses To Grades

By ABC-7 Reporter Jill Galus

Las Cruces, New Mexico – Good grades, better drivers.

This is the idea behind a state-wide proposal for teen drivers in New Mexico.

The Public Education Department’s rule ties a student’s academic proficiency in math, reading, and school attendance to whether or not that student may receive a New Mexico driving instruction permit.

There are mixed opinions across the road.

“It’s dumb,” Ian McKinney, an unlicensed sophomore, said. “Your grades don’t have anything to do with you driving.”

“If I want my license and I was 15 and knew I had to have good grades, I believe I’d have good grades,” Las Cruces resident Barry Eldridge said.

If New Mexico’s Secretary of Education gets her way, grades will determines eligibility to obtain a permit.

“Grades got nothing to do with driving,” Hilda Valdez said.

“I don’t think it’s right,” Joannie Prieto, a Las Cruces High School student said.

High schoolers say, the rule is crazy because the grade they get on a test has nothing to do with how well they can perform behind the wheel.

“A lot of people are probably going to just drive anyway, I think, whether they have a license or not,” Ryan Kirby, a teen permit driver, said.

Driving anyway, is what local driver’s ed instructor David Fresquez says, is the problem with this proposal.

“While little Johnny may not be passing proficiencies, his driving without any formal education, without any licence, may put all of us at risk,” Fresquez said.

And even if parents agree good grades are important, some driving instructors say it should not be up to the state to decide.

“It really hurts the students that are struggling the most in school,” Fresquez said.

But others say, this is a good motivator for students who understand a license is a privilege, not a right.

“Yes it is a reward,” Joe Alvidrez, Mi Tierra Driving School Instructor, said. “I think the ‘C’ and ‘D’ students will work harder to get a better grade.”

Students’ grades could be driving their chance at a learner’s permit as early as September 2011.

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