Charter Schools are good

The “Our View” article published in the Santa Fe New Mexican on August 25th argues against a potential k-8 charter school to be located in Santa Fe. The editorial argues that “explosion of charter schools in NM has spread resources too thin.”

No evidence is offered regarding resources being spread too thin and the fact that large numbers of New Mexicans prefer charter schools to traditional schools is somehow taken to be a bad thing. While still “public” and required to adhere to state rules, charter schools do have flexibility in certain employment and curriculum policies. Rather than “spreading resources too thin,” it would be more accurate to say that charter schools provide popular educational options for an increasing number of families at no additional cost to New Mexico taxpayers. Money that might go to the traditional Santa Fe Public Schools and other districts may be shifted, but those resources are simply following the students themselves. That money doesn’t belong to the bureaucracy, rather it rightfully should be used to educate the student.

The Santa Fe community supports the Thrive Community School. In fact, according to their publicly-available application which includes a survey of parents and community members, there is strong support for the school. Of 145 survey respondents, over 85.5% were either “Very Supportive” or “Supportive” of Thrive Community School opening in the summer 2022. To the same question, 6.9% of respondents were “Neutral” and 7.6% were either “Unsupportive” or “Very Unsupportive.”

Finally, the editorial fails to consider that its proposed remedy is more of the same. Just like throwing more money at the problem, more tutoring volunteers and 501-c3’s will do little in the end. Teachers and educational entrepreneurs must be incentivized to provide the best product for their clients, and parents must be empowered to be able to choose the best for their own children. In other words, real school choice must be encouraged. Charter schools like Thrive Community School are the best option available for many New Mexico families.

Edwin Aybar Lopez is Director of Education Coalitions at Opportunity for All Kids New Mexico, an organization dedicated to reforming New Mexico’s education system.