(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation (along with a host of organizations that support educational choice) is pleased to participate in School Choice Week 2016.
The Foundation is scheduled to participate in two New Mexico celebrations of School Choice Week, one in the Capitol in Santa Fe and the second
Said Muska, “Freedom of choice is at the very heart of the Rio Grande Foundation's mission. Given New Mexico's real struggles with educational attainment, it is high time we give parents and students the freedom to attain the education that makes sense for them.”
School choice is a broad term that includes, but is not limited to: magnet schools, inter-district transfers, charter schools, parochial and private schools, virtual schools, and home-schooling.
The Rio Grande Foundation is philosophically supportive of all forms of school choice, but approaches education policy from the bottom-up perspective. In other words, funding should follow the students giving them the power to make the educational choice that makes the most sense for them. After all, no one has a greater interest in the success of a particular student than that student's parent or guardian.
Watch “Joy in Our Town” with host, Ebony Romero, and guest, Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, as they talk specifically about the MEDICAID expansion in New Mexico.
Posted by KNAT - TV 23 on Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Over the years, New Mexicans have grown used to seeing their state at the bottom of a lot of good lists and at the top of many of the bad ones. This long-term systemic problem has grown worse due to declines in federal spending and employment at the Labs and military installations as well as plunging prices of oil and natural gas.
There are a lot of great people in New Mexico. We have a unique culture, internationally-recognized events and attractions, all topped off by incredible weather and landscapes. Unfortunately, for decades many believed that federal largess and mineral wealth were adequate bases for our economy. Business-friendly economic policies were ignored in favor of finding ways to tax and redistribute resources from these two industries.
This phenomenon is quite common. The list of resource-rich, but economically-backward nations is long including Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Libya, and Iraq (to name a few).
In just the span of a few weeks New Mexicans found their state ranked poorly on a series of national reports:
Most of the media’s attention has been focused on the ongoing scandal at the top of Albuquerque Public Schools. Unfortunately, an issue with much larger long-term ramifications was voted on by the APS board – minus Peggy Muller-Aragon, who opposed the move.
The issue is of course paying district employees “political pay” for serving in the Legislature. Apparently, a majority of the board recognized an opportunity to increase its influence in Santa Fe at taxpayer expense.
Currently, four legislators are employed by the school district. Those include Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque; Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque; and Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Tim Lewis, R-Rio Rancho. Unlike the others, Lewis has not accepted his pay as a teacher in recent years when serving in Santa Fe and presumably will continue to do the same despite the district’s move.
This is a classic case of a taxpayer-funded entity working to further its own political interests at the expense of those who pay the bills. After all, APS already has lobbyists patrolling the halls in Santa Fe, why not add a few more APS-paid legislators into the mix when it comes time to vote on education budgets?
Dr. Matthew Ladner spoke at the Rio Grande Foundation's "Milton Friedman Day" celebration on New Mexico's Impending Demographic Challenges and How Policymakers Can Cope. His slides can be accessed here.
Ladner, an optimist by nature, had some sobering words for the event attendees. As Ladner made clear, so many things in our society are improving and our economy is more productive than ever, but our education system has seen growth in employment without similar growth in productivity or improved outputs.
As Ladner notes, there are successful education reform models including the one implemented in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The entire public school system was turned into charter schools with some significant, positive results:
Reforming and improving the education system, notes Ladner, is all the more important with New Mexico's elderly population set to explode in the years ahead according to new demographic research by Ladner. According to Ladner. In fact, as Ladner notes New Mexico's working age will shrink as a percentage of the total population, with the Land of Enchantment projected to have the highest total age dependency ratio in the nation in 2030.
In New Mexico's case the increase in the total age dependency ratio projects to be entirely due to a near doubling of the elderly population between 2010 and 2030.
Dr. Ladner is Senior Advisor of Policy and Research with the Foundation for Educational Choice. He previously worked with the Rio Grande Foundation to bring the “Florida Model” for education reform to New Mexico.
Dr. Ladner has written numerous studies on school choice, charter schools and special education reform. Most recently, Dr. Ladner authored the groundbreaking, original research Turn and Face the Strain: Age Demographic Change and the Near Future of American Education, outlining the future funding crisis facing America's K-12 public education funding.
I was recently in Las Cruces and had a chance to sit down with Fred Martino of KRWG (the public television station in Las Cruces) to discuss what happened in the 2015 legislative session and special session. Las Cruces area state Representative Bill McCamley, a Democrat, was also on the air and, believe it or not, we found a few areas of agreement.