Saturday, December 19, 2009

Richardson opposes new charter school moratorium

Gov. Bill Richardson accepts the NEA's
Governor of the Year award in July, 2009

Governor Bill Richardson announced -- on Saturday --that he will oppose any efforts to slow down the growth of charter schools in New Mexico.

Additionally the governor is preparing a legislative proposal, for the 2010 Session, which convenes in January, aimed at strengthening the state’s charter schools.

“Improving education is the number one priority of my administration and that includes a strong commitment to allow parents choices about where they send their children to school,” Richardson said. “Charter schools are filling the needs of New Mexican families and are a great source of competition and innovation. I will not stand for any moratorium or other efforts to thwart this progress.”

In fact, Governor Richardson announced he will seek legislation to remove caps on the number of charter schools in New Mexico.

In a news release the Governor indicated he'll be proposing legislation that clarifies the process for both state and local charter schools to access both state and local capital outlay dollars to ensure equitable funding for charter school facilities. He announced he will not support any legislation that seeks to prohibit charter school employees from serving on elected school boards.

New Mexico is currently in the final stages of a preparing a grant for the federal Race to the Top grant. The strength of a state’s charter school program is an important component in the awarding of the grants. Any backtracking in the state’s commitment to charter schools, such as a moratorium, could hurt New Mexico’s chances for Race to the Top and the $75 million dollars of funding that would come with it.

New Mexico has a strong authorizing process for charter schools. Last year half of the charters that applied were approved. Currently, 73 charter schools are in operation or are in the planning phase around the state and the number is like to rise to 81 charter schools for the 2010-2011 school year. Forty-eight will be authorized by local school districts and 33 will be PEC/state authorized.

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