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ICYMI: LIBRE in Albuquerque Journal: NM kids deserve more school options

ICYMI: LIBRE in Albuquerque Journal: NM kids deserve more school options

Op-ed highlights missed opportunities by the 2022 legislature to expand educational freedom

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Yesterday, the Albuquerque Journal ran an op-ed by Jonathan Olivas, community engagement director for The LIBRE Initiative-New Mexico, an organization dedicated to empowering the Hispanic community. The op-ed, titled “NM kids deserve more school options,” makes the case for increased educational freedom in New Mexico while highlighting missed opportunities, by the legislature, to pass Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in New Mexico. Read the full op-ed here.

Below are some excerpts from the op-ed:

“What is the best way to educate a child? Well, it depends on the child.

Every parent and teacher knows this. That’s why there are so many different, yet proven, approaches to education. Big schools and small schools both work. So do secular and religious schools. Single-sex and co-ed. College prep and vocational. Advanced classes for kids way above their grade level, and special resources for kids who need extra help.

None of these approaches is right or wrong in any exclusive sense. Most students do best somewhere in the middle of the options above. That’s why it was so unfortunate that the New Mexico Legislature adjourned last month without taking up two bills that would help New Mexicans build out a more “all-of-the-above” approach to K-12 education in the state.

Debates about school choice often break down into food fights about the quality of public schools, as if the only reason parents might want options is that they think public schools are bad. But, in the real world, that’s not how choice works. Market competition is born of respect, not animosity. People don’t shop at Lowe’s because they resent Home Depot, or vice versa. Android and Apple smartphones appeal to different people for perfectly innocent reasons. Owners of Italian restaurants don’t take it as an affront that there are also Mexican restaurants.

Pluralism is a natural and healthy byproduct of diversity. And it’s everywhere in New Mexico. It is reflected in our economy, culture, spiritual communities, politics and art. And, of course, there is pluralism in our education system, too. It’s just reserved right now for people with enough money to afford private school – about 5% of N.M. students – or the personal flexibility to home school their kids – only a few thousand in the whole state. SB 210 and SJR 14 would simply have extended those options to everyone else. And the great thing is that polling shows that around two-thirds of New Mexicans support these options.

After all, every other sector of our economy is navigating a “new normal” after the pandemic: Many jobs are becoming more flexible, schedules more personalized and offices decentralized. Of course, physical public schools will remain the best option for most students and families. But why pigeonhole anyone when we have the resources to enable all families – not just the privileged few – to tailor each child’s education to what works best for him or her? …

The Legislature ducked that question by refusing to even consider SB 210 and SJR 14. But New Mexico’s children, parents and taxpayers still deserve an answer. …”

Read the full op-ed here.