A scholarship-granting organization that helps children attend the school of their family’s choice across New Mexico celebrated its 10th anniversary on October 1.
Over the last decade, Educate New Mexico has provided partial scholarships to more than 1,500 children from low- to moderate-income families through a random lottery. K-6 students receive $1,000 scholarships, while junior high and high school students receive $1,500 apiece. This academic year 300 children have received scholarships to attend 75 independent and parochial schools; 5,000 others are on a waiting list.
New Mexico passed up the chance to become the first state in the nation to create a universal voucher program in 2000 after Gov. Gary Johnson (R) vetoed his own bill because the legislature’s version wasn’t the all-encompassing program he envisioned.
“We had the votes to get it done, but it wasn’t a universal bill, so he vetoed it,” Educate New Mexico Chief Operating Officer Daniel Ulibarri said of Johnson, who attended the group’s anniversary gala.
Support for school choice is expanding statewide in a bipartisan manner, through efforts by Educate New Mexico and other choice organizations.
“The last four or five years, we’ve introduced a tax-credit bill which is slowly gaining traction. It seems like there’s always just another priority, so it gets pushed back and ends up dying in a committee,” Ulibarri said.
“But what’s really happened here, because of the coalition we’ve been building, is that [school choice] started off as a Republican issue and now a lot of Democrats have carried the bill and supported it a lot more,” he added. “How can you say no to a program like what Educate New Mexico is doing for kids?”
Karla Dial ([email protected]) is managing editor of School Reform News.