El futuro de la educación en Nuevo Mexico

Our voyage


Nestled in the Four Corners of the Southwest, you’ll find the Land of Enchantment bursting with natural beauty. Look closer, past the majestic sunsets over the Sandia Mountains, the adobe buildings with hundred-year histories, the lush green bosque surrounding our life-giving Rio Grande and the hot air balloons that dance in our October skies. You’ll see the most beautiful feature is not our landscape but the way our children discover their full potential in schools that set each on a path to success. Surrounded by caring and committed teachers, they will emerge as tomorrow’s leaders. Let’s embark on a journey to the future of education. Together we will travel along an educational path and discover the steps we can take to reach this destination.

Our journey begins with a look at our past and present. In the last decade, New Mexico has made notable strides toward great schools for all:

➊  Our state’s education plan has been nationally recognized for its strong, clear accountability systems that measure more than just student performance.1,2

➋  A higher percentage of students are scoring proficient or above on state assessments.3,4

➌  More students are attending “A-graded” schools.5,6

➍  More students are graduating from high school than ever before—and the graduation rates of students from diverse backgrounds have improved significantly.7,8

Yet there is plenty of road ahead before we arrive at an education system that prepares all children to become future community, civic and business leaders. Let’s prove that, together, we can chart a new path forward and dramatically change the way our schools shape the lives of our students.

1 Results for America, “ESSA Leverage Points”, pp. 3, January 2018.
2 The Collaborative for Student Success, “Check State Plans: New Mexico”.
3 NMKidsCAN, “State of Education in NM 2018”, pp. 10, January 2018.
4 Kim Burgess, “NM students’ scores on PARCC exams rise slightly”, Albuquerque Journal, July 24, 2017.
5 NMKidsCAN, “State of Education
in NM 2018”, pp. 10, January 2018.
6 NMPED, “District Report Card”.
7 NMPED, “Hispanic Student Graduation Rate Up Significantly Under Governor Martinez’s Leadership”, News Release, February 26, 2018.
8 NMPED, “Graduation Data”.

Our voices


Before our travels began, we set out to listen to the voices of our community. We spoke with hundreds of students, teachers, parents, administrators and community leaders. Here is what we heard about how we can better serve New Mexico’s children.

Jade Rivera

“My hope for the future of New Mexico education is not just that we do better, but that we give every student the best education available anywhere, regardless of their background. As I’ve visited some of the country’s highest-performing schools, I’ve been inspired walking the halls to see students that look like so many of our New Mexico children. These schools, driven by data, educate predominantly underserved students and garner outstanding results. We must create schools like these right here, in our communities.”

Jade Rivera was raised by a single mother near downtown Albuquerque, and graduated from the University of New Mexico. She found her calling as a teacher and returned to her old neighborhood to open Albuquerque Collegiate. The public elementary school prepares students for college, proving what’s possible when entire families receive support to meet
the highest expectations.

Lissa Hines

“As a Hispanic mother and educator, I know one thing is true: a phenomenal school can change a child’s life. Education in New Mexico will not improve on its own. Instead, we must pioneer the school system of the future, learning from diverse communities across the country that exemplify a sense of urgency. Information is power, so we must also give parents clear facts on school performance so they can make the best choices for their kids. Juntos…¡sí se puede!”

Lissa Hines is a parent and former Albuquerque Public Schools teacher. In 2016, she led an Oakland, California school that won a National Blue Ribbon award, and eventually returned to Albuquerque where she co-founded Altura Prep. As a parent she believes in transparency and excellence. If a school isn’t good enough for her kids, it’s not good enough for anyone’s children.

Arrow Wilkinson

“Academic excellence and cultural awareness go hand in hand. At Walatowa, we achieve this through a community school model that is both an educational institution and a center of community life. Our integrated focus on academics, youth and community development, tribal knowledge and language, family support and social services leads to improved learning, stronger families, responsibility to others, sense of belonging and physical and mental development. These tribal core values positively and necessarily impact the education system.”

Dr. Arrow Wilkinson is a member of the Arikara and Muscogee Creek tribes, and executive director of Walatowa High in Jemez Pueblo. The school’s blended focus on academic achievement and cultural awareness has earned it an average letter grade of “A” since 2015, as measured by New Mexico’s school grading system.

Ron Patel

“The world around us is constantly changing. We need to provide our children with an education that keeps up with this innovative world, and empowers them with the creativity and confidence to be our future leaders and change agents. We need to prepare our children with the skills and abilities to problem solve and manage conflict, while helping them build confidence to chart their own courses. It’s in our schools that our students should learn how to overcome setbacks and develop resilience, which we know is necessary for success.”

Ron Patel is a New Mexico author and entrepreneur who co-founded Just Dine In, a local food delivery service that GrubHub purchased in 2015. Later he founded Albuquerque’s first semi-professional soccer team, Albuquerque Sol FC. Ron wrote the book “That’s When It Hit Me,” and serves as past president of Young Professionals of Albuquerque.

Our guiding stars


When navigating our way through this educational journey, it’s important to stay pointed in the right direction. Grounded in a sense of what’s possible for all students, we will use these guiding stars to set goals for the future of education in New Mexico.


The world is changing in bold and dramatic ways: our students’ future jobs don’t even exist yet. We must ensure that our education system keeps pace by reimagining school and creating learning environments that prepare our students to reach their potential in the 21st century.

To reach this destination, we must fundamentally restructure how our education system works—from staffing to budgeting, organizational structures and content delivery. We will use technology to create dynamic opportunities for students from rural communities, and create a personalized path for each child. We will provide the flexibility each student needs to progress as they master academic content. These innovative systems supplement community experiences that enable our students to envision their own bold futures as leaders in New Mexico.


We live in a data-rich world, but this data rarely finds its way to the people who need it most. From our Capitol to our classrooms, data only makes a difference if it’s accessible, relevant and user-friendly. This is especially true when it comes to student learning and how well our schools are using their resources to create great educational experiences for every kid.

To reach this destination, we’ll empower parents by providing information that makes them the navigators of their children’s education. Parents need clear information about their children’s progress and their school’s performance. Administrators need to know how their schools are performing to adjust their sails. And teachers will grow best—continuously strengthening their work with students—through personalized professional development and mentorship grounded in data.


No two New Mexico children are the same. Our schools and pathways should complement our students’ distinct identities by offering a multitude of options for rigorous, forward-thinking and diverse school models. By creating more options—each with a different model and unique emphasis—we can provide every child a foundation for future success while making their classroom experience personally enriching and relevant.

To reach this destination, we will create opportunities for students and families to explore a rich array of possibilities and exercise their agency to choose what really meets their needs. By expanding successful models, encouraging innovation and reducing barriers to access, we will create a new generation of students engaged in the experience of their education, creating an engaged citizenry that’s ready to push New Mexico forward.


We cannot set our sights on minor improvements to the edges of our education system, but rather on excellence for all. An excellent public school system will foster a vibrant economy, healthy communities and an engaged democracy. That means keeping our standards high and aligning our efforts around nation-leading results.

To reach this destination, we will embrace rigorous standards in all subjects and ensure we have meaningful assessments to track progress toward our standards. We will promote and recognize excellent schools, teachers and students. We will demonstrate excellence to our students through the behavior and ongoing education of the adults in their lives, helping them connect their excellence in the classroom to a life of prosperity and fulfillment.

Our vision


We aim to provide every New Mexico child with an education that prepares them to achieve their wildest dreams. We envision a New Mexico led by New Mexicans who use the skills and competencies honed by our education system—and the collective experiences of our people—to create a better future for our state.

From civil servants like the Navajo code talkers to Senator Pete Domenici and Janet Napolitano; astronauts Sid Gutierrez, Edgar Mitchell and Harrison Schmitt; cultural icons Georgia O’Keefe, Rudolfo Anaya and John Denver; to great business leaders like Jeff Bezos and Conrad Hilton, New Mexico has a tradition of excellence. There is no limit to our kids’ potential if we’re standing beside them.

We also have the powerful asset of diversity, as one of the nation’s first majority-minority states. By challenging ourselves to harness that unique strength, we can serve as a proving ground for meeting the needs of our country’s shifting demographics. By seizing the opportunity to build a public education system that truly rises to the demands of the 21st-century workforce, we can serve as an example to communities throughout the world.

We are charting the path to a future where:

➊  Students are at the center of all education decisions.

➋  Every student is supported by a dynamic education system that offers a wide range of paths to success, providing each student with opportunities to reach
their potential and become the future leaders we need.

➌  Communities are engaged and informed with relevant and timely information that helps guide decision-making to best serve the needs of each student.

➍  Every school leader and teacher is celebrated and supported with the tools and flexibility to effectively guide their schools and classrooms to excellence.

A student’s educational journey


What is it like when families are empowered to embark on an educational journey that values innovation, transparency, options and excellence? Follow along with Isabel and her family to see how they navigate the education system of the future.


Isabel is born into a family of modest means in the South Valley of Albuquerque.

Community center

Isabel spends time at her local community center while her parents are at work. Her favorite activity is taking field trips to the local library.

District pre-K

After her fourth birthday, Isabel’s parents enroll her in the pre-K program at her local district elementary school.

Neighborhood elementary

For her elementary years, Isabel’s parents choose a nearby district school that offers extended learning days. The district provides after- hours transportation, which makes this option possible for Isabel.

Extended summer learning

Toward the end of second grade, when Isabel’s parents learn their daughter struggles in reading, they take advantage of a program offered at her school that provides additional instruction during
the summer.

Blended learning charter

After Isabel completes elementary school on grade level, her parents choose to enroll her in a charter school that offers personalized learning opportunities, so she can accelerate her academic progress.

Field trip to local business

In middle school, Isabel goes on a field trip to a local manufacturing business that employs more than 200 New Mexicans. Isabel is inspired by the CEO of the company, who grew up in her neighborhood.

Tutoring K–3 students

Each summer of middle school, Isabel chooses to participate in
a service-learning project led by the city. The project pairs middle school students with younger students
to help them improve their literacy skills by reading at local libraries.

College prep charter

For high school, Isabel chooses a charter school that prepares students for college by ensuring they all participate in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses, take the PSAT exam and visit university campuses.


Isabel is selected for a rigorous internship program at one of New Mexico’s national laboratories. She spends two summers working with local businesses that are suppliers for the lab.

High school diploma

Isabel becomes the first person in her family to graduate from high school, earning the prestigious National Merit Scholarship.

Four-year college

Using her National Merit Scholarship, Isabel enrolls in a four-year out-of-state college on a full scholarship, where she ultimately becomes the first college graduate in her family.

CEO of company

Inspired by her middle school field trip and her internship, Isabel returns to New Mexico to start her own company. She returns committed to providing jobs and opportunities for students like herself.

10,368 options

Isabel and her family could have navigated this map 10,368 different ways to customize her education. The map represents only a small fraction of the total choices available to them.

Measures of success


Our hope is that this journey into the future will provide vision and guidance so New Mexico can emerge as the national and global leader in educational opportunity for all. We want the “New Mexico Model” to serve as an example for communities and countries around the world. While our four guiding stars provide us with a uniquely New Mexican vision of change, we also know that we must track our progress against other states. To do so, we will use 50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now’s four dimensions of a healthy and dynamic learning system:

Community → Effective, sustainable policy change requires strong relationships, real-time feedback and long-term ownership by the people served.
Competition → Greater responsiveness and better outcomes are more likely when people have the power to choose among multiple options to meet their needs.
Performance → Success requires both the flexibility to pursue excellence and rigorous standards to ensure those serving the public are held accountable for their results.
Pluralism → Diverse populations are better served by dynamic systems that support lots of paths to success and embrace different traditions, values and beliefs.

Below you’ll see how we currently rate ourselves in each dimension. These ratings use 50CAN’s four-point scale. We also outline next steps for our future progress.


(1 point out of 4)
Our nonprofit and community leaders are engaged in bettering learning outcomes, but we must keep them more regularly, thoroughly informed. Student diversity is our greatest asset—yet our teaching force lacks rich diversity, and we could do more to correct this problem.


(1 point out of 4)
We offer students and families a range of education options, but most students are still enrolled in traditional public schools. We could do far more to ensure that parents and children know their options, can readily access them and can easily learn about their quality.


(2 points out of 4)
With rigorous standards, aligned assessments and easy-to-understand state report cards, performance is one of our strengths. Yet there is plenty of room for improvement, from increasing supports for educators to ensuring pay and job protection are related to educator quality.


(2 points out of 4)
We have made progress in developing a diversity of educational programs. However, we must ensure that the types and numbers of schools and educational approaches are not limited. We should also strive to develop a more well-rounded definition of student success.

Click here for an in-depth look at these measures of success, and to track our progress along our journey.

How to get involved


Founded in 2018, NewMexicoKidsCAN is a local nonprofit organization that advocates for community-informed, student-centered and research-backed education policies. Connecting policy, instructional practice and politics, we work to reimagine what’s possible in New Mexico’s public education system to ensure that our students become the future community, civic and business leaders we need.

Guided by the hope that we can, and will, create a system in which students are thriving everywhere in rigorous and relevant schools, we aim to mobilize students, parents and community members to advocate for an equitable education for every New Mexico child. Here’s how you can join us:

→ Continue your journey online. Learn more about education in New Mexico by exploring our site and signing up for emails to stay in the know.
→ Share your ideas. How can New Mexico reach new heights in education? Share a post on social media with the hashtag #KidsCAN.
→ Start the conversation. We would love to hear from you and talk more about working together. Email us at info@nmkidscan.org.
→ Join the campaign. Text “NMKIDSCAN” to 52886 to sign up for action alerts for upcoming campaigns.

Together, let’s create a New Mexico led by New Mexicans who choose to marshal their skills and competencies—honed by our education system—to create a better future for kids across the state. We can’t do it without you.