Governor Bill Richardson is all over the morning paper talking about his education reform ideas. He claims his “bold plan” will result in 10,000 more high school grads. I love it when politicians claim they can sway the actions of multitudes of individuals with the wave of a hand or a simple policy change. Of course, his new-found concern is education is a result of the state finally admitting that the real graduation rate in New Mexico is 54 percent.
This data is not “new.” Similar data has been available for years stating that only 50 percent of New Mexico high schoolers graduate. The difference is that the political establishment is finally admitting it. Unfortunately, Richardson’s “reforms” which at best replicate the better aspects of No Child Left Behind (testing across all ethnic groups) and at worst simply hide behind politically-correct pandering (creation of an Office of Hispanic Education) will do nothing to improve graduation rates.
Governor, you said when you first ran for Governor you supported education tax credits to provide for school choice. How about advocating for those? How about vouchers narrowly targeted at foster care and special needs kids? How about we use Florida, where Hispanic students perform better than the average New Mexico student, as a model?