Although the New Mexico legislature has rejected all of Governor Gary Johnson’s efforts to enable children in failing public schools to use a voucher to transfer to another public or private school, Johnson’s plan for a “report card” school rating system was approved by the legislature three years ago and is now beginning to trigger corrective actions established by the state Board of Education. The system provides a rating that is a measure of school success, together with statistics on student achievement, attendance, dropout rate, safety, and parent survey data by the state Board of Education.
The first set of low-performing schools was reported in August 2000. The schools numbered 172 and enrolled almost 70,000 students. Although many of those schools have improved their ratings, some 36 elementary, middle, and high schools across the state, from Albuquerque to Zuñi, still fail to meet the Board of Education’s minimum standards. The majority of the 13,538 children in these failing schools come from poor and minority families. Forty-four percent scored below grade level competency in reading.
While a state takeover could be executed as a last resort, the state Board of Education this spring issued a Request for Proposal for private for-profit or nonprofit education service providers to operate the 36 failing schools for up to four years. When the deadline for application expired on May 14, five private companies had applied:
- Corridor, Inc. of Las Cruces;
- New Mexico Education Network Center of Albuquerque’
- Youth Development, Inc. of Albuquerque;
- Edison Schools, Inc. of New York City; and
- Mosaic, Inc., of San Rafael, California.
State Education Superintendent Michael Davis will announce the finalists on June 13.