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Quit putting up charter school roadblocks

The recent Public Education Commission hearing that denied the Mission Achievement and Success Carter School’s (MAS) request for additional student enrollment sparked an Albuquerque Journal editorial criticizing that decision, urging a re-examination of the request.

It seems the primary reasons for the denial were traffic safety concerns, issues the MAS officials have tried to address with the city and the neighborhood.

This issue reminded me of a similar effort by another successful charter school, the Albuquerque Institute for Math and Science (AIMS), currently located on UNM south campus, which wanted to add a second location at the north UNM campus in Rio Rancho.

AIMS applied for the second campus in May 2013 but Rio Rancho officials … objected to the new school on procedural grounds. AIMS director and founder Kathy Sandoval labeled it a “turf war.”

Rio Rancho filed and lost a lawsuit in the Santa Fe 1st Judicial Court in May 2017 in an attempt to stop the new campus. Superintendent Sue Cleveland decided to continue the legal fight, spending more taxpayer money on an appeal in the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

… But wait a minute, what about the children, the students? Sadly, our children are the ones losing out.

Statistics show these charter schools are very successful in educating students to achieve grade-level proficiency. Generally, students at MAS are low-income, disadvantaged kids, with 78% reading at grade level compared to just 36% statewide. … AIMS was recently rated the best school in New Mexico and 43rd in the nation. Both schools have student wait lists exceeding 1,000. But turf wars and traffic concerns punish rather than reward exemplary performance.

The day after the editorial the headline in the Metro section was “NM again ranks last in child well-being.” The article states New Mexico was also last in 2019, 2018 and 2013. The connection between a poor education system and these dismal statistics is obvious.

My fundamental question is why do our institutions and officials put up so many roadblocks that stymie the critical education process that means so much for the children in this state? … There are solutions to these schools’ problems.

Rio Rancho: Help facilitate AIMS through the application process for a second campus rather than suing.

Residents and neighbors near MAS: It isn’t rocket science. Solve traffic complaints, add playground equipment, donate money to enrich the school’s facilities.

Devise solutions rather than create barriers for these amazing success stories for the benefit of all concerned. Let’s be the best we can be, not the worst. But right now pettiness and shallow vision obscure what is really important. This disgusting mindset is why New Mexico is last in every “good” list and first in every “bad” list. If the counterproductive mentality doesn’t change, New Mexico will forever be in last place.

A solid, meaningful education is the key fundamental building block to upward social mobility. President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty program … proves one thing: Throwing billions of dollars and uncountable social programs at poverty accomplishes nothing.

The bottom line is personal responsibility and accountability; relying on yourself to improve one’s position in life is the ultimate solution. Securing an advanced education – whether college or learning a skilled trade – staying off drugs, no babies in adolescent years and maintaining a two-parent family will be key steps to a more rewarding and productive life. That’s the answer to our immense education, social and financial problems.

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