Critical decisions should be made locally. This would allow parents, teachers and community leaders, instead of out-of-touch Washington bureaucrats, to determine the most efficient use of resources.
While there is a need for state-funded public education, I firmly believe that education starts with the family. Accordingly, I will support any measure that relieves the tax burden on all hard-working parents so they can allocate more of their own resources to alternatives such as home-school and private schools.
Let me tell you about a program called the Bridge. The Bridge program was created in response to the gaps that existed between the needs of a 21st century economy and the preparedness of high school graduates in Dona Ana County. It's a partnership between the local business community, their community college, and their public schools. Together, they established the state's first early college high school. Every student who will graduate from this school not only earns a high school diploma, but they also earn an associate's degree and, in some cases, a work-ready certificate. That student is ready to be hired.
Since the Bridge Program has been operating, not one student has dropped out. This session, I'm pursuing a plan to take what the Bridge has accomplished in Dona Ana County and bring it to other areas of New Mexico.
Our focus is on struggling schools--on offering a hand-up to those who need help. That's why I'm proposing $4.7 million in school turnaround programs to close the gap between high-performing schools and schools that are struggling.
I want school districts to know and I want parents to know that I have heard their calls for more math and science teachers in New Mexico schools, particularly in low-income areas. We have an exciting initiative to dedicate $2 million to recruit more math and science teachers, to move scientists and engineers to the classroom and to entice college graduates through loan forgiveness programs.
Strengthening accountability and increasing transparency in our schools are the keys to improving the quality of education we offer every child in New Mexico. By recognizing progress and aiding struggling schools, we will give principals and teachers the tools they need to help students succeed.
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