The education empire strikes back

We at the Rio Grande Foundation love to be attacked by our opponents. It shows that we are making a difference in the policy debates and are threatening the status quo. The latest such attack can be found below. It is an ad that is supposedly running on several morning cable news shows.

The ad attacks the Rio Grande Foundation, Gov. Martinez, and a variety of education reformers in New Mexico and levies the accusation that each of these groups is attempting to “privatize” education because we support charter schools.

The ad doesn’t talk about what’s best for students but focuses on politics. Choices and meeting individual learning needs are good things for students. Does it matter where student success comes from? It should be about the kids – not politics.

Now, we DO support charter schools, but charter schools are public schools open to all children, they’re NOT private.

Rather than attacking those who are attempting to reform New Mexico’s schools, why not be honest and up front about a few facts:

Today, over 14,000 New Mexico students attend one of 82 charter schools across the state. Obviously, many parents feel that their children are not being served in traditional public schools;

This search for options is the result of New Mexico’s education system having struggled for decades.

According to the “Diplomas Count 2011” report from the Education Research Center, New Mexico’s real graduation rate is 57.1 percent. That is 49th in the nation.

On the 2009 reading version of the National Assessment of Education Progress, New Mexico 4th graders beat the reading scores of only one other state.

Clearly, charter schools are a popular option for many parents and students. We at the Rio Grande Foundation are trying to expand the number of options available while increasing accountability within traditional schools. Unfortunately, some special interests don’t like accountability and choice.