Free charter schools give parents a choice - Albuquerque Journal

Free charter schools give parents a choice

I’m lucky to be raising my children in the Land of Enchantment for one very specific reason: school choice.

New Mexico law allows for my family to choose where I send my kids to school. If I like the neighborhood district school, I can enroll my children there. If we prefer a magnet school a few miles down the road, I can file for a district school transfer. If we choose a charter school and its focused mission, I can fill out an enrollment application for my prospective students. If private school is within our means, I can easily sign them up. If I want to keep the schooling within my home or with a group of like-minded families, we can even choose to homeschool our youngsters.

Let’s say that again – New Mexico families have a choice of where they send their children to school. For many families, free public schools are the preferred option. Charter schools are free and open to all students to attend, regardless of the student’s abilities and prior academic experiences. Charter schools were designed to be hubs of innovation for education in the state. Each school is driven by a community-based need with a mission focused on a new way to deliver quality education to children and give them an opportunity to love what they’re learning. When students can explore their passions, they thrive.

Public charter schools are part of the public school system but work a little differently than traditional public schools. They’re held to a high standard of quality, provide individualized attention, and are born out of a community need. In New Mexico, there are 100 public charter schools in 28 communities with dozens of unique models, ranging from Montessori to college prep, STEM to performing arts, project-based learning to dropout re-engagement and more. These schools serve over 30,000 students.

As a family choosing to exercise our choice in our children’s education and their school, we appreciate the structure and the oversight that is impressed upon New Mexico’s charter schools. Accountability is vital for our students and public school success. Charter schools are governed independently to have the freedom to meet students’ needs without bureaucracy.

Charter school governing council meetings are open to all members of the school community to listen in on school progresses (and) operational management, and the meetings are open for community input with public comments. Remember, charter schools can be closed if they do not meet performance objectives laid out in their charter contract. Charter school success is ensured through accountability measures consistently in review.

Free, public charter schools offer choice to families of all backgrounds and income levels and provide diverse educational options for a diverse student population in our state. Charter schools offer innovation for students that don’t fit the “one-size-fits all” model of traditional public schools.

My family is not passing up the opportunity to take a lead role in our children’s education by choosing where we send them to school. We are grateful for school choice and thankful for the free, public charter school in which we entrust our children’s education.

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