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2 Santa Fe Charter Schools Rejected

SANTA FE, N.M. — Applications for two proposed charter schools to be based in Santa Fe were rejected by the Public Education Commission this week.

The StarShine Academy Lisa Law Peace School and New Mexico Connections Academy were among eight of nine applications that were turned down by the commission.

Prior to the hearings, the charter schools division of the Public Education Department had recommended denial for five of the nine applicants. The StarShine Academy Lisa Law Peace School was one of those recommended for denial, while New Mexico Connections Academy had received a recommendation for approval with conditions. Both proposed to serve students in grades K to 12.

According to the final analysis of the charter school division’s recommendation and evaluation to PEC, StarShine Academy Lisa Law Peace School’s vision statement lacked “sufficient focus” for a clear picture of its educational model. It said student performance goals “lack the clarity and precision necessary for the proposed school to measure, monitor, and report student performance adequately.” Several organizational goals also fell short, it said.

That was reflected on the overall score sheet. The school received 39.26 points out of a possible 68 for organizational plan governance/organizational framework. It also scored 85.21 out of a possible 112 points for educational plan/academic framework. The school received an overall score of 167.62 points out of a possible 244.

“The application does not appear to include a plan to monitor and adjust school-wide practices as necessary,” the report said in summary.

The report stated that the applicant relied heavily on the work of another charter school, that being the StarShine Academy in Phoenix.

Patricia McCarty, StarShine Academy’s founder and the person spearheading the effort to open a campus in Santa Fe, told the Journal last month that the school focuses on the “whole child.” She said the curriculum is based on core knowledge, which integrates academics, physical fitness, art and music.

“It’s very cohesive and is aligned with the common core standards that have been adopted by the state (of New Mexico),” she said.

Santa Fe resident Lisa Law, a writer, photographer and peace activist who has long-standing ties to McCarty and her husband, was lending her name to the school.

New Mexico Connections Academy was proposed to be a virtual charter school with a teaching/learning center in Santa Fe. However, students statewide would have been able to take courses online.

Among those listed as founding board members were Gov. Terry Aguilar of San Ildefonso Pueblo, state Sen. Mark Boitano of Albuquerque, and Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation.

New Mexico Connections Academy earned 214.5 points out of a possible 254 on its application.

“The Review Team did not feel the academic goals are rigorous enough (‘meet or exceed’ state averages), as stated, given the school’s intent to have all students meet the highest performance standards and maximize each student’s potential,” the charter schools division final analysis states.

The only charter school approved by the PEC was Albuquerque’s Health Leadership High School. According to its application, the school focuses on providing education to students ages 14 to 24 from low socioeconomic families interested in pursuing careers in the health care field.

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