PRESS RELEASE - November 19, 2003
Governor Bill Richardson Addresses Public Education Commission
SANTA FE -Governor Bill Richardson today urged the new
Public Education Commission to help him seek broad public input and
involvement as the Governor and Legislature restructure the Public Education
Governor Richardson delivered the following remarks today
in Santa Fe:
Thank you for having me here today. This is a new and
historic day. Now, because of the confidence placed in us by the voters,
we each have new responsibilities. But, all of us should unite behind
one goal- that every child in New Mexico receives the quality education
As members of the new Public Education Commission, you
have a valuable although different role to play than the State Board
filled in the past. I made it clear at every stop during the education
campaign, and I want to make it clear today: I want broad public input
and involvement as we chart a new direction for public education.
As regIonal representatives, I strongly believe you can
make important contributions to public education in the future. There
is no other statewide elected body that has the confidence of the voters
to make recommendations to their partners -the governor and Legislature.
I 'm sure you're famIlIar with the GP A Task Force I created to make recommendations on restructuring the Public Education Department to better support schools. More than half of the membership of that Task Force is from rural areas, including some who opposed the education amendments that voters passed in September.
While voters approved of both amendments, I got the message that they
want the state to be careful with money from the Permanent School Fund.
And I know full well that rural New Mexico doesn't want to lose a voice
in public education. That's why I am making good on my promise to strengthen
the role of rural communities. I am creating a Rural Schools Division
within the new Department, and I am close to naming an Assistant Secretary
to oversee that division.
I am also establishing an Indian Education Division, which will be
led by newly appointed Assistant Secretary Penny Bird of Santo Domingo
The initial recommendations from the GP A Task Force are due around
the middle or first part of December. I would appreciate having your
reaction to those recommendations prior to the start of the legislative
session. I would also like to get your support for my recommendations
for education funding to the Legislature.
I want Veronica Garcia and her team at the Department to be my advocate
for improving public education and carrying out my vision for a preschool-to-graduate
school education system in New Mexico, one that focuses on learners
at all ages.
Here's what I expect: I want the Secretary to make sure the money meant
for school reform is used for school reform. I want the Secretary to
get the Department to focus on being more of a leadership and service
agency and less regulatory in its focus. And I expect the Secretary
to help lead the effort to get the agency on a sound footing fiscally.
Finally, I want to emphasize what a fantastic adviser Dr. Alan Morgan
has been as interim Secretary. He will continue on in an advisory role
--helping me consider how the Public Education Commission and the GPA
Task Force's recommendations can be carried out; and advising Dr. Garcia
as she settles into her role.