Policymakers Should Encourage, not Discourage Digital Learning and For-Profit Involvement in Education

(Albuquerque) Children throughout New Mexico are heading back to school. And, with the opening of the state’s second totally virtual school, New Mexico Connections Academy, the exact nature of that school is changing more rapidly than ever.

And, according to a new report from the Rio Grande Foundation, “New Mexico Policymakers Should Expand, Not Limit Online/For Profit Education,” this is an encouraging development. Furthermore, according to the report, policymakers, particularly the Legislature, encourage rather than discouraging the trend towards “virtual” learning with involvement of for-profit businesses.

According to Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing, “the report details the many benefits of virtual learning and the involvement of for-profits, including:”

• Increased efficiency and innovation;
• Ability to leverage capital markets and additional resources to benefit education;
• New educational models including “blended” and “virtual” models;
• Ability to leverage truly excellent teachers across geographical barriers and other classroom limitations.

In addition to outlining the benefits of digital learning and for-profits, the report contains a report card outlining how New Mexico’s policies inhibit or promote digital learning. Specific ideas are provided for improving the public policy environment with an eye towards implementing many aspects of Utah which has the best laws in the nation when it comes to digital learning. New Mexico is middle-of the-pack.

Concluded Gessing, “New Mexico has two virtual charter schools and Albuquerque Public Schools has begun to embrace digital learning with pledges to increase and improve upon digital options available to students in the district. Nonetheless, policymakers, especially in the Legislature, have spent their time attacking rather than encouraging innovation in education. For the sake of our children, it is time for that to change”

ObamaCare Panel Discussion: what is the latest with the law and how will it affect me and my family?

Recently, Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing and Dr. Deane Waldman who is an Adjunct Fellow with RGF, a pediatric cardiologist, an author on health care issues, and sits on the board of New Mexico's health exchange, recently appeared on a panel sponsored by the Sandoval County Republican Party to discuss the health care law known as ObamaCare.

Charlie Christmann, Chairman of the Party, video recorded the proceedings which are available below:

ObamaCare Panel Discussion Held by Sandoval County Republican Party on Saturday, July 27 from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Tim Keller of the Institute for Justice discusses economic freedom and Milton Friedman's legacy at RGF's Friedman Day Celebration 2013

The Institute for Justice is one of America's pre-eminent freedom organizations. Tim Keller visited New Mexico to help the Rio Grande Foundation celebrate Friedman's legacy at a luncheon event in Albuquerque on July 31, 2013. Video of Friedman's talk is below:

Several photos of the celebration and our radio discussion with Bob Clark of 770 KKOB AM can be found below:

Event video and protester photos from this week's Right to Work Events!

We were blessed this week to have the heads of the state think tanks from Oklahoma and Michigan in town this week to discuss the concept of "Competitive Federalism" and Right to Work.

No Right to Work event is complete without protesters and a few union supporters were out to express their opposition to worker freedom. Check out the photos here, here, and here.

Michael Carnuccio of the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs had the following thoughts about his visit to New Mexico as expressed in his weekly column.

And lastly, we have video of Carnuccio's presentation on "Competitive Federalism:"

How Competitive Federalism Can Spur New Mexico's Economy from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

And, here is the panel discussion that took place with Lehman, Carnuccio, and Gessing explaining the issues surrounding Right to Work in the respective states.

7-11-13 Right to Work Panel from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

New Mexico Must Do Better than 50th

We’re dead last. That’s the sorry news according to the latest “Kids Count” report. The gist of the report is that in terms of health care, education, economic conditions, and family unit cohesiveness, New Mexico children are worse off than kids in other states.

The report was co-released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and New Mexico Voices for children. While Voices and Rio Grande Foundation would generally be considered the opposite ends of the political spectrum, the report itself was data-driven and informational.

While the news is not good, it is refreshing to see the political left decrying New Mexico’s serious economic and educational problems. After all, within the last year, we at the Rio Grande Foundation have pointed out that New Mexico is 50th in economic freedom, was named the number one “death spiral” state by Forbes for its poor maker/taker ratio, has the lowest graduation rate in the nation according to the Diplomas Count report, and was named by United Van Lines as the only state west of the Mississippi to be a “top-outbound” state in 2012.

Feds must give local land control back to N.M.

This article appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on 6/24/13 and in several other papers state-wide.

Washington can’t seem to manage much of anything these days. Even before the myriad scandals started to take their toll on the Obama Administration, the government’s inability to manage money and resources was clear to even the most passive observer.

Notable among recent policy failures has been Washington’s inability to find even the smallest reductions in a $3.8 trillion budget – a budget which more than doubled in size in just over 10 years. This failure led directly to the hated “sequester” which, while not actually cutting year-over-year spending, did slow Washington’s growth somewhat.

Inequality Debate Video/Powerpoint slides available online

The Rio Grande Foundation recently hosted a debate on the issue of inequality in America. Participants were Paul Gessing, president of Rio Grande Foundation and Nick Estes who recently worked as an analyst with New Mexico Voices for Children.

The footage of the debate can be viewed below:

"Rising Inequality in America ... Should Government Respond? If so, how?" from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Nick's powerpoint slides are available here while Paul's are available here.

How did your legislators vote on freedom during the 2013 legislative session?

For the first time ever, during the 2013 legislative session, the Rio Grande Foundation created a tool called "Freedom Index" which allowed legislators and constituents alike to see how our representatives voted on freedom issues on the floor of the Legislature.

We have created infographics for each house and each region of the state to allow users to compare their legislators against each other within the same region. Check out the following documents:

Eastern New Mexico
Western New Mexico
Southern New Mexico
Northern New Mexico
Santa Fe area
Albuquerque area

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