PRESS RELEASE - December 9, 2003
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Education Secretary Garcia Receives Input from Rural Educators, Higher Education Leaders

(Las Cruces, NM)--Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. Garcia invited suggestions and input to her 12-Point Entry Plan for Education during a visit to southern New Mexico on December 8 and 9. "This visit generated valuable input from rural educators and policymakers that is critical to implementing education reform in New Mexico," said Secretary Garcia.

Secretary Garcia heard from constituents from Alamogordo, Gadsden, Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences on a variety of topics, including quality after-school programs, high school graduation rates and tracking of graduates, the apprenticeship program at the Manufacturing Technology Engineering Center at New Mexico State University (NMSU), multi-cultural education and technology. Several meetings were held with representatives of NMSU and Dona Ana Community College.

“It is more than ever clear that we must develop a system for articulation with institutions of higher learning. This is a vital step to ensuring that every child has quality teachers and learning standards to prepare them for college-level work,” said Secretary Garcia.

Included in her 12-point plan are the following initiatives:

· Restructuring of the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED)
· Analysis of the NMPED’s financial/business operations
· Development of a statewide community engagement framework
· Creation of a framework for enhanced public relations
· Creation of a statewide Coordination Council for Education Reform to bring together various groups working to reform the state’s schools
· Development of a master strategic plan
· Acceleration of the implementation of the Indian Education Act
· Creation of a Rural/Small Schools Task Force to identify key stakeholders and issues
· Focusing on assessment and accountability
· Creation of a framework for articulation with other youth providers
· Creation of positive change in the culture of the NMPED

“There is much support for becoming a state where all children are able to graduate prepared to competently participate in postsecondary education or the workforce,” she said.