New Mexico’s passionate and diverse charter school teachers, leaders and advocates work relentlessly to cultivate a tomorrow in which every student has access to an inspiring and meaningful k-12 public education that prepares them for our modern world. Charter schools in New Mexico are free public schools for all and are small public entities that can nimbly meet the needs of students regardless of the circumstance. As we begin a new school year that will hopefully be less impacted by the pandemic, it’s important to reflect on what we’ve learned.
When public charter schools meet the individual needs of students, they are strengthening families, communities and the public school system. Charter schools across the state showed that, even though their campuses were closed, their schools were open to meeting the needs of families. Three Albuquerque charter schools below are an example of how public charters stepped up to the plate to put students first during the pandemic.
• Tierra Adentro of New Mexico assigned families to its entire school staff to touch base with throughout the pandemic, ensuring their needs were being met. The school provided technology access, along with art, music and dance materials, to be able to continue their Flamenco-based and arts instruction while students were learning from home.
• Sandoval Academy of Bilingual Education (SABE) kept all of its extracurricular activities going when students were learning remotely, including cooking in the classroom. As soon as they had the chance to serve students in person, they moved quickly to take advantage of the opportunity.
• Digital Arts Technology Academy (DATA) used a video-game platform to host students for their classes, group projects and document storage. The system worked well for them and provided a platform that most students could easily navigate and were familiar with.
These Albuquerque-based public charter schools found ways to keep students engaged and learning during the pandemic.
This student-first action from public charter schools is one reason Bernalillo County residents have such high regard for their charter schools. In December 2020, Public Charter Schools of New Mexico teamed up with partners to survey 500 residents with the help of Research and Polling Inc. The findings were moving. Over 75% of Bernalillo County voters want more charter school options, a finding that held across all ethnicities. Further, in our polarized political world, having additional charter schools resonated across the board with all political affiliations: the finding included 76% of Democrats, 78% of Republicans and 76% of Independent voters.
Public charter schools in New Mexico reflect the amazing diversity of our state, and each school chooses to put those students first when making decisions. We all know a one-size-fits-all approach to education does not work for our children. Let’s create more public school choices so every child has a chance to go to a school that meets their needs. It’s a big reason why the people want more.