As more parents vote with their children’s feet and enroll them in public charter schools, the pressure to remove that choice intensifies. Who knew so many legislators and teachers union reps agreed one size fits all in education?
New Mexico has 96 charter schools with more than 26,000 students. Many serve very specific segments of the population – the hearing impaired, the artistic, the science/math whizzes, the autistic, the bilingual, the adjudicated – because when our state established enabling legislation for charters, those leaders understood one size does not fit all students.
Yet, once again, the usual suspects in the Legislature – Sens. Mimi Stewart, Gay Kernan and Bill Soules, and Rep. Christine Trujillo (all have worked for traditional public schools, some have deep union ties) – are sponsoring legislation that takes that tailored, targeted learning away. And the reason why was as clear as the headlines on the front pages of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s Journals: “Continued enrollment decline hits APS budget” and “Forty-two percent in survey gave APS a C.”
It is no coincidence that as Albuquerque Public Schools forecasts a 1,300-student drop in its traditional schools for fiscal ’20, successful charters, including Mission Achievement and Success and the Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science, have waiting lists at least that long. Or that 50 percent of those surveyed gave charters an A or B. Parents have seen the impressive gains in student reading and math proficiencies that quality charter schools deliver (which Stewart is trying to obfuscate by replacing A-F school grades with an unintelligible “dashboard” via her SB 229).