What is a charter school?
Charter schools are public schools. They do not charge tuition
or have admission requirements. In New Mexico, local boards of education
approve a charter, which then becomes the legally binding document
under which a charter school operates. In return for a degree of
flexibility and autonomy, charter schools agree to operate with
The New Mexico Public Education Department says “a charter
school is a public school developed by one or more parents, teachers
or community members authorized by the local school board to provide
an alternative educational setting to parents and students in the
public school system. Charter schools provide an opportunity to
create new, innovative and more flexible ways of educating children.
A charter school can either be a start-up (new school) or a conversion
school (from an existing public school).”
Charter schools have their own boards of directors (governing
councils) and approve their own budgets. They hire their own teachers
and principals. They expand and support the work accomplished by
the state's other public schools by agreeing to a higher level of
accountability. Charter schools are intended to provide parents
and students with a choice in public education.
Charter schools in New Mexico have a limited life span because
the charter or legal contract between the school and the district
expires every five years. The school must then apply for a renewal
of the contract. If charter schools fail to meet their financial
and academic goals as outlined in their approved charter, they may
be shut down, much like a business. In this way charter schools
are highly accountable to parents and students for their academic
and fiscal performance.
New Mexico has fifty-five approved charter schools in operation.
Three more are approved and will open in fall 2006. Thirteen new
charter applications are currently under review by local school
Village Academy on track to open in 2006
The results of a survey to measure interest in a charter school
have sparked renewed commitment to launch Village Academy Charter
School this fall. In November and December, Village Academy’s
governance council met with parents interested in a charter middle
school, and they also authorized the appointment of new council
members to further build capacity.
VACS council members approved a follow-up information training
session, to be held on January 8, 1:00 to 4:30 p.m., at San Antonio
Mission Church. The purpose of the meeting is to provide an overview
for parents and other volunteers, as well as to generate work plans
and committee assignments.
Public-governance council meetings are now held on the second
Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Alternate Wednesday work sessions are scheduled
on an as-needed basis. Governance council members welcome input
from parents and others who want to participate in any capacity,
and are actively soliciting new members for committees and the 2006
governance council itself. Interested individuals are encouraged
to attend the charter school’s public meetings to obtain information
and offer suggestions.
To receive information about student participation, the academic
program, and how VACS can address your child's needs, write to Village
Academy Charter School, P. O. Box 1247, Placitas, NM 87043-1247,
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students can “opt out” of military
The Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities provides a
form letter to exercise your legal right under the opt-out provision
of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 telling your school it may
not release your personal information to military recruiters. The
form is to be filled out by parents. Opting out is your legal right.
There is no penalty and school officials must comply with your request.
Many schools have their own forms, but if you don’t receive
one, contact the school or use Project YANO’s form (available
Personal information may also be released to military recruiters
if you take the military’s Armed Services Vocational Aptitude
Battery test at school. If you take this test, your personal information
will be provided to recruiters even if you opted out. This test
is devised by the Department of Defense to measure skills for military
jobs. The ASVAB is also being used by the Pentagon to create a national
database of all teenagers. This test is not mandatory and there
is no penalty for not taking it. Parents should tell the school
if they do not want their children to take the test.
Project YANO also provides information on the Delayed Entry Program,
whereby students sign up a year before they have to report for active
duty. The military is obligated to release all DEP recruits who
request a reparation. The project also has a flier titled Careers
in Peacemaking and Social Change that encourages students to look
for a job that “does not harm others and promotes cooperation
and the building of a just society.”
For more information, contact Project YANO, at P. O. Box 230157,
Encinitas, CA 92023, e-mail ProjYANO@aol.com,
or visit www.projectyano.org.
Open your home to an AFS exchange student
Students from Germany, India, Finland, and Hong Kong are coming
to Albuquerque and surrounding areas in August. Albuquerque-area
volunteers invite local families to have the experience of a lifetime.
New Mexico schools have hosted students from Indonesia, South Africa,
Japan, Belgium, Ecuador, and other countries.
Host families open their homes and hearts to high school students
from around the world. They provide their new "son” or
“daughter" with a bed, meals, and guidance, and receive
the support of AFS staff and volunteers. Families are diverse and
on the go and include two-parent households with small children,
teenagers, or no children at home; single parents; grandparents;
and adults who do not have children.
AFS-USA is a nonprofit organization that works toward a more just
and peaceful world by providing international and intercultural
learning experiences to individuals, families, schools, and communities
through a global volunteer partnership. AFS-USA hosts over twenty-seven
hundred students from more than fifty countries every year. AFS
students come to the United States for a school year or semester
and study in high schools around the country.
For more information, please contact local-area volunteer Jan
Randall at email@example.com, (505)
856-7576; or staff member Brie Rehbein at firstname.lastname@example.org,
1 (800) 876-2377, extension 1563.
NMSU scholarships revamped
New Mexico State University has revamped its scholarship structure
to be more competitive with regional universities and give more
students access to awards, said Tyler Pruett, director of financial
aid and scholarship services.
The changes include implementing two new scholarships, the NMSU
Leadership and Crimson Honors. The leadership scholarship, awarded
to incoming freshmen, rewards outstanding academic achievement and
leadership. The award covers tuition and fees plus $1,000 per semester.
Leadership scholars participate in NMSU's Honors College, the state's
only honors college, and conduct undergraduate research or undertake
creative arts projects.
The Crimson Honors scholarship application serves as a single-form
application for the scholarship, the Crimson Scholars Program, and
admission to the Honors College. The scholarship covers tuition
and fees plus $500 a semester. It is awarded on a competitive basis
to incoming freshmen from New Mexico with outstanding academic and
Other modifications include increasing the requirements to the
President's Associates Honors scholarship to be more competitive
with regional universities; broadening the criteria for the Regents
scholarship to allow more students access to the award; and renaming
the Regents Plus scholarship to Crimson Academic. Students awarded
the Crimson Academic scholarship will be eligible to apply for the
Crimson Honors. The Opportunity scholarship has not been changed.
In addition, the deadline date to apply for the President's Associates
Honors and the NMSU Leadership scholarships is January 16. The changes
will affect incoming freshmen beginning their college careers in
For more information on scholarships and financial aid, contact
the office, at (877) 278-8586, (505) 646-4105, or email@example.com
or go to fa.nmsu.edu.