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Editorial: State continues war on successful charter schools

Consider it another victory in the war against high-quality charter schools in New Mexico. But it’s a loss for our students.

The state Public Education Department has stripped small-school funding from Mission Achievement and Success’ second campus.

MAS, a state-authorized public charter school in Albuquerque that has received an “A” grade from the state every year since 2015, launched a second location in August. The original location on Yale SE has a wait list of more than 1,000 K-12 students. The new school, which has 100 students this year, was slated to get $613,000 in the 2019-20 school year via the state’s small-school size adjustment.

PED Chief of Staff Daniel Manzano implemented some creative new math in justifying the funding cut, saying MAS is well over the small-school funding enrollment threshold when students at

both sites are counted. PED’s decision comes on the heels of state lawmakers phasing out the ability of urban charters to use the small-school funding mechanism.

And that, like the yearslong battle against a second site for the nationally recognized Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science, adds up to cutting off supply to the thousands of parents who want quality school choice.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has vowed to close or even erase the achievement gap so prevalent in our state’s education system. In presentations she made this week to business groups, she pledged more community schools – those that provide services beyond education needed by so many of our students. An excellent plan. But MAS does that – providing free dental and immunization clinics, college tours and day-to-day materials including uniforms and school supplies, resources now in jeopardy with the funding cut. And it has already shown success at addressing the achievement gap. It has a diverse student population that has seen continued growth. Why wouldn’t we want to do everything we can to replicate that success?

MAS founder and principal JoAnn Mitchell says while the small-school funding cut will have a “significant impact” on the school, there are no plans to close or scale back the expansion. That aligns with the MAS mission statement – the school homepage states “Zero Excuses … Only Results!”

State lawmakers and the PED are making delivering on that mission statement harder. And that’s unfortunate, because all of the state’s K-12 students deserve no less.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.