What New Mexican Are Saying About Smaller Schools

“I am an avid supporter of small schools. Not only do I believe that children get a better education, but they are great community builders. It’s amazing when your child is in a school and you know all the other children and their parents by name. The parents get more involved and it’s a win win situation.” -Maria Figliolia, Taos, March 4, 2009

“I am a teacher in a very small school district (Fort Sumner) and believe that the smaller school bill needs to pass. Year after year our school has a very high graduation rate and our students continue their education into college. Our school was awarded the National Bronze Award for Excellence and that should show you the success that smaller schools have.” -Lori Propps, Fort Sumner, March 4, 2009

“I want to take this opportunity to thank you for championing this issue of keeping and further developing small schools. I truly believe that you are on the right track and that this is an issue worth fighting for….Successful human beings are created as part of community; part of ‘who you are’ is ‘where you came from.’ Countless successful businessmen, legislators, educators, and famous Americans had their beginnings in a small school environment….Small schools work.” -Roberto Archuleta, principal, Velarde Elementary, Oct. 29, 2008

“I am a substitute teacher in Albuquerque’s huge high schools. Having schools that big is horrible. Even worse than horrible is the Superintendent’s justification – that it helps a school’s football team and garners awards for that school’s ROTC.” -Reber Boult, Albuquerque, Dec. 1, 2008

“[At my former large high school], even though there was lots of security, you didn’t feel safe. It felt like we were in a prison. The security guards all had weapons, and there were always fights, where the officers would arrest students. Now [at much smaller Amy Biehl High School], everybody knows everybody and it feels safe and friendly.” -America Enriquez, student, Sept. 5, 2008

“My children have attended both larger public schools and smaller (charter) schools in Santa Fe and have received more from the smaller schools. I believe that the teachers are able to keep a better handle on the kids and actually know who they are and where they should be. The administration also knows the kids in the school and can and will inform a parent if there is a problem right away. Our kids get lost in the larger schools and sometimes they think that is a good thing, but it isn’t doing them any favors.” -Eileen Funck, Santa Fe, March 4, 2009

“The data in the Think New Mexico report clearly demonstrates that small schools will result in higher graduation rates, something that has been confirmed by the smaller, but more focused, charter high schools.” -George Richmond, local businessman, Dec. 5, 2008

“A smaller school population allows students, teachers and parents to be more acquainted with each other thereby establishing a community. A community is always better for dealing with learning strategies, discipline problems and communication. Knowing more about your students is always a boon to teaching them.” -Wade Tyler, Las Cruces, March 6, 2009

“My own son was always a good student academically. He attended 1st
through 8th grade at a small private school, and then attended a high school of 2,000 students where he was failing almost all his classes. I took him out of that school and put him in a small charter school where he excelled. The mega-public high school experience was a miserable one for all of us. Achievement can only be attained in an environment where there is strong parent involvement and where children don’t feel that they’ve fallen through the cracks. Many parents are not at all involved in their childrens’ education, so those children are truly the forgotten ones. They need our help, and the only way they’re going to get it is for those children to be taken out of an archaic and ineffective school system and put into a smaller environment.” -Gail Kilmer, Albuquerque, March 4, 2009

“As a high school teacher in rural New Mexico, I believe that while start-up costs may be high for a new facility, ultimately what dropouts cost our society in the long run far exceeds this figure; not only monetarily but also in the emotional toll these dropouts take on our society when they turn to drugs and gangs and other heinous crimes for lack of options.” -Elizabeth Hudson, Tome, March 4, 2009

“Think New Mexico’s smaller schools concept is good politics for all children and I am in support of this great cause. Frankly, this initiative is a civil rights cause for all New Mexican children. We should embrace it and defend its principles, values, and educational goals for the betterment of all children regardless of where those children reside in New Mexico.” -Jose Villegas, Santa Fe Public Schools parent, Oct. 6, 2008

“Your report is very much in alignment with national research that articulates how important small learning communities are to student success. We at the university have implemented Freshman Learning Communities for entering freshman and the student retention has increased over the past year….If you have a conversation with students who drop out of school, the majority will tell you that no one cared and they were just a number for roll call. Many of the minority students who drop out of high school state that the major reason why they left school was because they did not think anyone cared. Small schools make it almost impossible for students to ‘fall between the cracks’ because of the consistent supervision and monitoring of student performance and welfare.” -Vi Florez, New Mexico Secretary of Higher Education and former UNM Dean of Education, Oct. 28, 2008

“Logistically, small schools are administered far more efficiently. More money is channeled into direct instruction, less is wasted in the layers of redundant, inefficient, bloated, overly-political bureaucracy… Many times small schools can be built in neighborhoods, which students can walk to, or parents can drive them to, reducing the outrageous amount of money that is spent on busing students around huge counties on inefficient routes. Initial costs of building small schools are far less, and maintenance
costs are reduced as problems are detected and repaired faster. Building new schools that incorporate alternative energy and energy-saving design features will save present and future money.” -Linda Federico-DeGeest, Ranchos de Taos, March 4, 2009

“As a former high school teacher, I very much agree with Think New Mexico’s assessment of this issue. In a small school, administrators are more able to follow up with struggling students and communicate with parents. I know that we as a state can better serve our students while being aware of our budget.” -Kathryn Ugoretz, Santa Fe, March 4, 2009

“I know that working at a small elementary school has had a positive effect on the students. Their needs are not lost or unnoticed and are much more easily met than at a large school. We are much more able to identify actions we need to take for each individual child so that they are supported in the areas that they struggle in and challenged in the areas that they excel in.” -Marcia Ortiz, Albuquerque, March 4, 2009

“The research has always favored smaller schools/learning communities….We rationalize that larger schools are more economical and offer more in terms of curriculum but both have been substantially proven to be mendacious….If all kids (which is part of the small school mindset) participated [in athletics and extracurricular activities] as opposed to the lower percentile in larger schools, you’ll find leadership qualities enhanced, confidence higher, self-esteem stronger, time management skills better, among a thousand other values inherent to the experience.” -Dan Salzwedel, former director, NM Activities Ass’n, Dec. 5, 2008

“I am a parent, an educator, and a health care provider in Behavioral Health. My child was lucky to go to a small charter high school, where she received an excellent education. She is now a Presidential Scholar at UNM in her junior year abroad. I also know that not very many of our youth have the opportunities in public education that she had – and it was only through a lottery process that she had them. That is not fair. Every New Mexican high school student deserves the shot that my daughter got at better teaching, learning, and achievement.” -Jenna Viscaya, Albuquerque, March 4, 2009

“As a former mentor to several youth in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I cannot stress enough the importance of passing SB 255 (small schools). I have repeatedly seen how children can fall through the cracks and become invisible in classrooms with overwhelmed teachers. This dynamic verifies in their minds that they are unimportant or incompetent and fuels the high dropout rates we continually have in our state. There is a significant body of research that substantiates the power of smaller schools producing more competent and engaged students and human beings. Schools are not factories. In many cases our youth spend more time at school than with their own families. Let’s pass this bill and honor the potential of the generations to come.” -Maria Hondros, Santa Fe, March 4, 2009

“I support our small schools. My children have all attended Cliff High
School (K-12) in Cliff, NM. We rank VERY high in academics and graduation rate. We need to keep these wonderful small schools going.” -Tammy Johnson, Buckhorn, March 4, 2009

Most quotes are from letters that were sent to the governor and legislators after Think New Mexico released its policy report on smaller schools in October 2008. Reprinted here with permission.

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