Fall 2023 Newsletter

New Poll Shows Broad Support for Public Charter Schools in New Mexico, Strong Parent Demand
for More Educational Options

Nearly three-quarters of New Mexico residents believe public charter schools help improve public education and would like to see more of them opened or expanded across our state. An astounding 88% of parents believe New Mexico families need more public school choices in their community. These are findings from a new statewide survey of New Mexicans, conducted by Research & Polling Inc. and commissioned by Excellent Schools New Mexico (ESNM) and several partner organizations working to ensure every New Mexico child is able to receive a
high-quality education in a great public school.

“It’s worth noting that all demographic subgroups, regardless of party affiliation, age, gender, household income, educational attainment level, union household status, etc., support developing and opening more charter schools in the state,” commented Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc. New Mexico’s most prominent and accurate pollster also noted a similarly large majority of residents oppose anti-charter school legislation, proposed in past legislative sessions, that would “stop the opening of new charter schools in New Mexico for several years, either across the state or in certain communities.”

Overall, 73% of New Mexicans support charter school expansion, compared to just 14% of residents who oppose. Support extends to every region of the state, including 82% of residents in the Las Cruces/Southwest region and 75% of residents in both the Albuquerque Metro and Eastside regions. Fewer than one-in-ten Republicans and Independents oppose charter school growth in New Mexico, and just two-in-ten Democrats oppose.

Additionally, nearly half of New Mexico residents say a candidate’s support for charter school expansion would affect how they view that candidate; of those, residents are four times as likely to view the candidate more favorably as unfavorably. Just 9% of residents overall say they’d view a candidate who supports charter school expansion unfavorably.

“Launching and expanding great charter schools is not a politically polarizing issue among the general public – at all,” said ESNM Executive Director Scott Hindman. “There’s clearly a desire among New Mexicans for higher-performing public schools, and great charter schools are seen as a promising way to meet that demand.”

Survey details: Pollsters interviewed a random sample of 517 adult residents living in New Mexico between October 6 and October 19, 2023. The poll has a maximum margin of error of 4.3%. It was commissioned by Excellent Schools New Mexico, NewMexicoKidsCAN, Public Charter Schools of New Mexico, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, and Teach Plus New Mexico.

Last week, the Albuquerque Public Schools board approved the expansion of East Mountain High School, a high-performing charter school located in Sandia Park, from a high school (serving grades 9-12) to a middle-and-high school (serving grades 6-12).

Founded in 1999, East Mountain High School serves approximately 375 students, primarily from Albuquerque’s rural East Mountain communities. East Mountain High School boasts the highest high school graduation rate (90%) of all Albuquerque Public Schools’ high schools, and proficiency rates among low-income students are between 2x-4x state averages. The school also offers its students opportunities to participate in athletics and internationally recognized extra-curricular activities, including a highly decorated speech and debate program. In recognition of its efforts, East Mountain High School was awarded a National Blue Ribbon award by the U.S. Department of Education in 2018.

Given East Mountain High School’s alignment with ESNM’s mission, ESNM has committed to make a significant grant to fund the school’s growth and facilities build-out. As a result of this grant, East Mountain High School will nearly double in size, to 700 students, and will be able to alleviate its consistently long waiting list. Congratulations to principal Trey Smith and East Mountain High School’s board, staff, students, and families. We are thrilled that East Mountain High School will soon provide more access to New Mexico families who seek a world-class education for their children.

Changemakers Fellowship Educates,
Mobilizes Community Leaders

“I think many New Mexicans in various leadership positions throughout our state would love to be a contributing part of a solution to improving our students’ education experience, but many of us don’t know what that realistically looks like.”

That’s the sentiment of Albuquerque entrepreneur and business owner Jacob Fox, describing why he chose to join the Changemakers Fellowship, a joint program of Excellent Schools New Mexico and NewMexicoKidsCAN that seeks to educate and mobilize community leaders to improve K-12 public education in our state. A graduate of the Fellowship’s second cohort, Fox is turning what he learned into action, overseeing an effort to help plug other Changemakers graduates into difference-making roles in the community. Among other things, this could include mobilizing graduates of all backgrounds to be engaged policy advocates on education issues, identifying community members to serve on appointed education councils or task forces, recruiting local business leaders onto the governing boards of charter schools, or asking civic-minded non-profit or business leaders to run for local or state education offices.


“You would be hard pressed to find a business, government, or nonprofit leader who does not recognize and appreciate how closely our state’s economic future is tied to the quality of our public schools – and I think most of us want to be helpful in turning education around. After my Changemakers experience, I feel more equipped to play a role in helping our community engage in education reform. We should all want what’s best for our students in this state, and the task now is to do the important work of organizing ourselves on what that means, and how we as a collective community can hold decision makers accountable to making that happen.” – Jacob Fox

Changemakers announced its third cohort earlier this Fall, comprised of 30 community leaders from private sector companies, nonprofits, trade associations, local governments, national laboratories, and other organizations. The group will meet together regularly between now and May, learning about New Mexico’s education system and discussing education policy at the state and local levels. They will tour schools, attend at least one school board meeting, and travel outside the state to a school district that has dramatically improved its academic performance.

Through it all, the goal of the cohort will be to identify what works in education, celebrate it, and think about how it might be replicated to positively impact more students and schools in New Mexico. Given the public’s widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of New Mexico’s public schools – which is reinforced empirically by the state’s low academic rankings – Changemakers Fellows hope to take greater civic ownership of education, arguing that change is necessary while spreading a hopeful message that change is possible.

Introducing the Changemakers’ Third Cohort:

Emily Allen – Dekker Perich Sabatini
David Ams – TRU Waste Advisors, LLC
Victoria Archuleta – Village of Los Lunas
Abenicio Baldonado – New Mexico Oil & Gas Association
C. Xochitl Campos Biggs – Office of U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez
Dominique De Armond – KIPP
Megan DeLaRosa – Kirtland Partnership Committee 
Amy Douglas – Community Leadership
Kelcy Flanagan – Maestas Development Group
Gabe Gallegos – SUNNY505
Joseph A. Garcia – Presbyterian Health Plan
Dominic Garcia – Albuquerque Community Foundation 
Nick Gordon – Sklar Capital Advisors
Kristin Grassham – Interos, Inc.
Billy Gupton – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch
Monique Jacobson – Monique & Associates 
Rebecca Latham – Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails 
Rebecca Myers – Coterra Energy
Martin Olea – Central New Mexico Community College
Sal Perdomo – Titan Development
Marta Pereira – Enlace Comunitario
Thomas Quirk – Sandia National Laboratories 
Nathan Roberts – Bohannan Huston
Destiny Rojo – PY Foundation
Isaac Carlos Romero – Sandia National Laboratories 
Louis Salazar – ConocoPhillips 
Stephanie Santillanes – Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union
Justin Schroer – Presbyterian Healthcare
Jay Shah – Dreamstyle Remodeling
Christian Slough – Build with Robots


Here are just a few articles that we have read recently and believe are well worth your time:

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