As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close–capping off the most disruptive 18 months of education of my lifetime–it is time to turn our attention to the next school year. As we work to build a system for our students that will meet their needs coming out of the pandemic, I ask that as we plan, we believe in better.

With unprecedented levels of state and federal funding, now is the time to build BETTER for New Mexico’s 330,000 students. We must unharness ourselves from the idea that we will “return to normal” or “go back to what was.” This is our chance to return to better.

In the months ahead, NewMexicoKidsCAN will highlight the ways in which the state, our districts and charter schools can prepare to return to better. Some ideas may sound new, but many are grounded in our previously released The Future of Education in New Mexico vision guide. Remember Isabel? We dreamed of a world in which she could experience a personalized experience through our education system that would prepare her to realize her dreams.

Today, we continue the journey. There are Isabels in every classroom across our beautiful state and they deserve to realize their dreams. Our plans and activism will be grounded in five core principles:

The education that’s right for you, because every student learns differently.

✓ Choose from a variety of personalized, individualized choices of in-person schools, virtual schools, learning pods or homeschooling.
✓ Be taught by dedicated, diverse educators who believe in you and see your potential.
✓ Receive equitable funding that overcomes historical injustices and delivers every student the resources they need to thrive and pursue lifelong learning.

Tutoring and care for every student in every community.

✓ Access to free, high-quality tutoring. Not just during the school year, but year-round.
✓ Receive guidance, wellness and mental health services from a caring adult. A mentor who listens to, and understands, each student’s individual needs and life experiences.
✓ Choose among free camps and opportunities, this summer and beyond, to support your social and academic growth.

A world of open and connected learning, so you have the tools you need to strengthen our community and succeed in life.

✓ Access to free high-speed internet and an up-to-date device. The right tools are vital to genuine learning.
✓ Take courses virtually from across New Mexico and around the world. No student in 2021 should be confined to the opportunities in their own community.
✓ Become an informed participant in the American democratic system, in order to contribute to our community, institutions and country.
✓ Earn credits from civic, non-profit, university, professional and government organizations, on a schedule that works for you. More than just credits, these connections will help you to get ahead by opening up doors of opportunity and access.

A family’s right to know what’s working – it’s all about accountability.

✓ Know – line by line and dollar by dollar — exactly how much money is being spent on your child and how those dollars are put to use.
✓ Know the performance of any educational choice you choose. Students’ and parents’ have the right to know exactly how hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being invested in our children and our future.
✓ Receive real-time information on your progress towards college or a career. Learning works best with constant, consistent feedback and clear goals.

A clear path to the career you choose. It’s about finding your fit and your pathway to a meaningful life.

✓ Choose a high school internship, apprenticeship or work-based study program to build your skills.
✓ Access college credits earlier than ever for advanced coursework in high school.
✓ Graduate from high school with acceptance to college or the credentials for a high-skill, high-wage career.

Stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead as we work to highlight great work from across the state and provide families resources to take their seat at the table.

Amanda is the founding executive director of NewMexicoKidsCAN and an alumna of the 50CAN Education Advocacy Fellowship. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


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