Albuquerque students who choose to attend traditional district schools or charter schools are all public school students in our city. It’s time for adults to stop making false divisions between traditional district schools and charter public schools. After all, parents and students don’t see those divisions. They just want the best school to fit their needs.
On Sept. 1, the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education met and considered a proposal to place a moratorium on public charter schools in the district. The resolution, which would have sought to stop the development of new public charter schools, highlighted the disconnect between the community and those who oversee Albuquerque’s public education system. The effort was an attempt to maintain the status quo at Albuquerque Public Schools; the same status quo that parents and students increasingly opt out of. More than attempting to stop the growth of the public charter school movement, the resolution, which was not adopted, highlighted ongoing attempts to politicize public education, mislead the public and deprive parents and their children of educational choice.
While APS struggled to open schools and educate our kids during the pandemic, families sought student-centered education for kids, and public charter school enrollment skyrocketed. Here is why:
Contrary to what many detractors suggest, charter schools are public schools. They are free, open to all students, and put the needs of students first. We take all comers, regardless of age, income, background or ability. By providing teachers with flexibility in the classroom, charter schools meet the needs of individual students, strengthen families, communities, futures and the entire public school system. What they do not do is serve the needs of the education bureaucracy. Attempts at dividing public charter schools from traditional public schools only hurt the families, students and teachers of our community who are dedicated to quality public education.
Public school choice, where families are able to choose the school that is right for them and their children, has a positive impact on education. That’s why Bernalillo County voters overwhelmingly agree that public charter schools and public school choice make education better. A December 2020 poll of 500 Bernalillo County residents found that 77% agreed that charter schools improve public education in Albuquerque and across the state. This was a finding that held across income levels, political affiliation and city quadrants. Parents and families know that having public charter school options enriches their children’s education. Why doesn’t the APS Board of Education?
Clearly, the APS Board of Education is putting politics before what their constituents want for their families. The night the APS Board of Education considered the resolution, there was steadfast public comment against the move. More than 20 parents, students and members of the Albuquerque business community spoke for more than 45 minutes against the resolution. Their overarching message was clear: public charter schools in Albuquerque are high-quality and high-performing institutions, and families need more of these options, not less.
We have a responsibility to ensure every child gets a fair shot to succeed. That means offering high-quality school choices that meet the needs of each child and putting the needs of students first. Giving families options makes public education better. Here’s to hoping that the next APS Board of Education gets it and begins to act in the best interests of the families they represent and the students they are responsible for teaching.