PRESS RELEASE - November 19, 2003
Office of The Governor
Capitol Bldg., 4th Floor
Santa Fe, NM 87503

Gilbert Gallegos
(505) 476-2217

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 Department.

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 they deserve.

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 Pueblo.

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.
I expect an independent view to come from Veronica. I want her to listen and consider the advice of the Public Education Commission. But I want her recommendations to me to be based upon her best judgment of what's right for New Mexico's children.

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.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to speak today. And good luck.