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Charter schools aim to make a difference

While Albuquerque’s Whittier, Hawthorne and Los Padillas elementaries are currently reviewing which four state-mandated options to use to improve their failing schools, the learning and entire future of New Mexico’s children is being impacted. Not only is their education being dramatically affected now, but it will have a staggering impact on their entire adult lives.

Albuquerque Institute for Math and Science @ UNM, grades 6-12, and soon-to-open Altura Prep, K-5, share the concern of the parents and kids impacted by this situation and are offering to help. Both charter schools are making their teachers, administration and other resources available, excluding lottery-based enrollment. The schools’ administrators, teachers and/or the parents and children themselves can take advantage of these resources. From consultation with administrators and teachers, to meeting with parents and kids – anything that can help kids and parents.

Now is not the time to debate the charter-vs.-traditional school issue. This is the time we should be focused on the No. 1 priority – our kids’ education. During this holiday season, if we can lessen the burden of uncertainty for parents and children about their education, we will feel gratified.

Albuquerque Public Schools can choose from four options outlined in the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan: close the school, relaunch it as a charter school, reorganize it or “champion” parents’ option to transfer students to other schools. A letter of intent is due to PED by Jan. 9, and a full plan outlining the turnaround steps is due by Feb. 12.

The focus of this conversation is doing what’s right for students and looking for new ways to break down barriers to those opportunities for students. We hope that our offer will help at least one New Mexico family, hopefully more.

Altura Preparatory School is an elementary school in Albuquerque’s International District opening in fall 2018 that eventually plans to serve over 300 students in kindergarten-fifth grade. Altura Prep charter school’s mission is to provide a great school option in Southeast Albuquerque. In this part of the city, most students are assigned to attend schools with more than three-fourths of their students below grade level. Altura Prep is confident all students, regardless of ZIP code, race, ethnicity, or home language, can learn and can do great things.

AIMS@UNM public charter school, on the University of New Mexico campus, has an enrollment of over 80 percent students escaping D and F corridors of their local schools. AIMS was recently ranked 42 in the United States for high schools and was recognized by The Washington Post as ranking 45th in the nation as one of the most challenging high schools. Recently, AIMS students participated in the PISA, Program for International Student Assessment, exam taken by 540,000 15-year-olds in 72 countries. While Asian education systems dominate the upper reaches of the results, accounting for the top seven places for math, AIMS scored higher than the average of these countries.

If you would like additional information on Altura Preparatory School, contact Lissa Hines or Meaghan Stern at For more information on AIMS@UNM, contact Kathy Sandoval Snider at