Let’s get this out of the way: I am a product of Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) and lifelong resident of Albuquerque. My connection to our city and schools runs deep. That said, I’m also a pissed off parent.
As a parent and supporter of Mission Achievement and Success (MAS) charter school I find the recent, petty actions of the NMPED childish and politically driven. My 13-year-old attended MAS for 6th & 7th grade and benefited greatly from the education, high standards, accountability, and curriculum hand-picked for the school. Before MAS, my son was the product of failing APS schools where he, like too many children in Albuquerque, was not given a proper education, no accountability, and low or non-existent standards.
And don’t come at me with the tired “parents aren’t engaged” response. As a graduate of APS myself, my wife and I are highly engaged and knew we could not let our son be another statistic of failed APS leadership.
My wife and I discovered MAS when our son was a 4th grader and could not yet attend because MAS didn't offer elementary school yet. What drew us to MAS - besides the A+ rating (which will now be a thing of the past) and lofty expectations - is a culture of high standards for each child to graduate high school and be strongly prepared for college.
MAS has a great curriculum but the school goes far beyond what is contained in standards. The staff take an approach like no other school I’ve seen, teaching children the principles of success for both school and life. MAS demonstrates and shows students the mindsets and tools needed to plan, create, and live their desired lives.
The value of this to me and parents I have spoken with is immense. MAS is setting our children up not to just graduate but to be successful in life thereafter; whether they attend college (which is highly encouraged), start a business, or attend a technical or vocational school.
MAS’s main focus is our children and that can be seen in everything they do. They provide uniforms, breakfast, lunch, dinner, before- and after-school child care, dental clinics, and immunizations at no charge. All this so kids and families don’t have to worry about and kids can focus on getting a top-notch education.
NMPED has said over and over how they support “community schools”. Yet, when it comes to MAS and New Mexico’s other charter schools providing services and excellent education to underserved communities, NMPED continues to wage war on charters, a despicable national trend.
Another reason we were drawn to MAS is their diverse culture of families and the amazing partnership from MAS and its teachers in exciting students about learning and participation. Nearly three and a half million families (including more than 200,000 teachers) across the U.S. have decided a charter school best meets the needs of their students.
Remarkably, the majority of the children at MAS are first generation high school graduates and will be the first in their families to attend college. In tandem with MAS, families are investing their most precious resource (their children) in seeking to rewrite the future of public education in New Mexico.
Along with the “new administration” in Santa Fe has come a renewed war on charter schools, despite the fact that EVERY family attending one has chosen to do so for their own children. Let it be known that we parents of charter school students will not be used as pawns in an ideological battle. We want what’s best for our children, and don’t care much whether a school is charter, or not.
Until every neighborhood school across Albuquerque offers a high-quality education we’ll continue to advocate tirelessly for our children. Now stop the political games and do what’s best for students.
Waylon Chavez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has a passion and love to help and serve his community as a local business owner. In addition, Waylon offers his leadership skills throughout the Albuquerque community as he has been appointed to numinous boards and committees and ran as a candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2014.