This month we asked the New Mexico Department of Public Education (NMPED) to set a high bar for turnaround plans in Albuquerque and Dulce, where four grade schools faced closure depending on the decision from NMPED. Last Friday, the decision arrived.
Our call for high standards paid off and Albuquerque students who attend three failing public elementary schools–Hawthorne, Los Padillas and Whittier–could soon have access to more high-quality teachers, school choice options and more.
Click to read each school’s letter:
The plans will move forward if Albuquerque accepts NMPED’s conditions–and we sincerely hope they do. There’s so much potential for our kids.
In Dulce, the clock keeps ticking. There’s no slam-dunk for state officials here–just more time that will pass before something is done.
In the case of Albuquerque’s schools, the NMPED conditionally approved plans for Los Padillas and Whittier Elementaries, while the Department denied the plan for Hawthorne Elementary, selecting instead to work with the district to aid families in placing their children at one of the 10 better-performing schools within a five mile radius of the school.
These plans from APS are worth earnest recognition. It’s clear that district leaders have finally embraced the opportunity to think differently about solutions for our kids, and the plans are sound; they include strong components necessary for school turnaround.
It’s been a long road to get here, but arriving will produce huge benefits for the nearly 1,000 students who attend these schools. Ultimately, I agree with NMPED that the plans are good enough to pass–but I wish they would have stepped even further out of the box. After all, it was disappointing to see APS submit three nearly identical plans for schools that serve different communities.
Dulce, on the other hand, has a lot of work to do. Unlike APS, Dulce hasn’t shown they’ll be bold, urgent and transformative to better the lives and learning of their grade schoolers. On the contrary, the department denied the district’s second plan for improving student achievement at Dulce Elementary but offered another extension until May 7.
If the plan comes up short again, it’s unclear how much longer New Mexico would make our students wait for a meaningful public school alternative, whether it were another school altogether or a transformed Dulce Elementary that thrives with a thoughtful, well-researched boost of state resources, including a potential takeover.
Whether it’s the district or the Department, someone must step up and put the needs of students in Dulce first.
We’ll be watching out for Dulce’s new plan–and watching what unfolds in Albuquerque Public Schools with cautious but sincere optimism, and the hope for school leaders, teachers and students alike that the best laid plans will put kids where they need to be to learn, grow and succeed.