Ed­u­ca­tion suc­cess is in our grasp IF we want it

Albuquerque Journal - - OPINION - BY STEVEN CAR­RILLO

Editor’s note: The fol­low­ing are re­marks, slightly edited, that the Santa Fe school board pres­i­dent Steven Car­rillo de­liv­ered at a joint meet­ing of the state House and Se­nate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tees on Feb. 2.

Re­gard­ing plan­ning for and fund­ing pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, we are at a cross­roads.

Make no mis­take about it. Our suc­cess here is not a “moon­shot.” This is not build­ing an atomic bomb or land­ing a man on the moon or cur­ing can­cer.

All of the tools, re­search and tal­ent is right here in front of us. And it’s not about the money. Money finds wor­thy en­deav­ors. Our suc­cess here is a moral de­ci­sion and moral de­ter­mi­na­tion to do the right thing.

We, YOU, stand at a crit­i­cal mo­ment in time. Do we con­tinue to choose medi­ocrity and un­der­fund­ing as the norm? The Yazzie-Martinez court de­ci­sion man­dat­ing more sources for pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion says “NO.”

The gover­nor says “Aim higher.” So let’s aim higher.

In this ses­sion, in THIS 60 days, we will demon­strate by our ac­tions ex­actly who we are. And $500 mil­lion is NOT enough. We are un­der­funded by more than $340 mil­lion 10 years ago. To be in­no­va­tors and lead­ers in pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, I would say you’re look­ing at $800 mil­lion. New teacher tiers with salaries of $45,000, $55,000 and $65,000 is a start. But in five years, let it be $60,000, $70,000 and $80,000, pay­ing all of our teach­ing pro­fes­sion­als AS pro­fes­sion­als.

Of course, this con­sti­tutes a foun­da­tional and mon­u­men­tal change in the way we think about and fund pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion. This may seem like a lot, but con­sider the re­sults of build­ing our ed­u­ca­tion and eco­nomic fu­ture with three wheels when we needed four.

We must develop and im­ple­ment highly com­pet­i­tive and se­lec­tive higher ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams to at­tract our na­tion’s best po­ten­tial ed­u­ca­tors; fund full-day uni­ver­sal pre-K and birth-to-4 sup­ports and ed­u­ca­tion; and develop 5-year and 10-year strate­gic plans with the over­ar­ch­ing goal of New Mex­ico be­ing in our na­tion’s top 10 for grad rates and core pro­fi­cien­cies.

This is all pos­si­ble. Ex­pen­sive and pos­si­ble. Y’all know how to fund these things. We just have to WANT this. The ball is in your court.

What fu­ture for New Mex­ico are YOU will­ing to ac­cept?

Steven Car­rillo

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