NM’s Public Education Commission Denies Renewal of Hillsdale College-affiliated charter school

New Mexico’s education woes are well-documented. Low graduation rates and poor educational performance are the hallmarks of New Mexico’s government-run education system. This is why the Rio Grande Foundation has long-supported school choice in all of its varieties as a way to increase accountability and reduce bureaucratic inertia throughout the education system.

Unfortunately, when it comes to education in New Mexico, however, success simply puts a target on your back. Take the case of the Estancia Valley Classical Academy (EVCA). The School is affiliated with Hillsdale College and educates based on principles of the American Founding and a study of the classics from ancient Greece and Rome.

By all accounts, as seen below, EVCA has been successful in generating strong results (averaging an “A” over the last three years even if they received a “C” in 2016.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t good enough for the Public Education Commission (PEC). The Commission which had originally chartered the school decided in December NOT to renew its charter. If Education Secretary Skandera fails to override the PEC’s decision, the school would be forced to close.

According to the meeting minutes available at the PEC’s home page, Commissioner Patricia Gipson motioned not to renew the school’s charter, saying “I move to deny the renewal application of Estancia Valley Classical Academy for the following reasons: The school committed a material violation of the conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter school contract because the school’s policies are in direct violation of federal law, and the school violated any provisions of law from which the charter school was not specifically exempted, because, once again, they are in violation of federal law.” Commissioner Jeff Carr seconded the motion and it passed 6-1 with only Commissioner Millie Pogna opposing it.

Additional details are available in the school’s renewal application package, but it is unclear what specific “material violation” the school had. It would also seem that some kind of remediation could have been recommended by the PEC, especially considering the school’s strong academic performance.

Alas, it appears that political agendas at the PEC may have gotten in the way of an excellent option for New Mexico students. And we wonder why New Mexico is 50th!