PRESS RELEASE - October 20, 2004
Office of The Governor
Capitol Bldg., 4th Floor
Santa Fe, NM 87503

Gilbert Gallegos
(505) 476-2217

Governor Bill Richardson to expand opportunities in public
schools, colleges and universities

SANTA FE - Governor Bill Richardson today announced several ambitious initiatives
designed to expand opportunities and prepare New Mexicans to succeed in school and in

The Governor’s plan, called Prepare for Success, offers many proposals for revamping
New Mexico’s higher education system, starting with expanded opportunities to allow
more people to access the popular Lottery Success Scholarship program. The scholarship
program, which has a large surplus, would be changed to make more students eligible,
students who have taken time off after high school, and students who have attained an
Associates Degree to get a 4-year degree at a New Mexico college or university.

“My plan, called Prepare for Success, addresses gaps throughout our public education
and higher education systems -- by preparing New Mexico students to succeed at every
level,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “The goal is to prepare all New Mexicans to
succeed in college - whether they’re fresh out of high school or working parents wanting
to return to school.

Governor Richardson is also proposing the following initiatives related to the lottery

1. Add a wait out period for students who are not ready to begin college three
months after high school graduation. Many students - as much as 50 percent - take
time off after high school. The Governor’s plan allows them to take as much as
two years off before enrolling in New Mexico colleges - and still be eligible for
the lottery.

2. Give a second chance to those students who fail to earn the Lottery scholarship
their first semester. If they stay in school the next semester, and raise their
cumulative GPA to a 2.5, they’ll get another chance.

3. Those New Mexicans who are not now eligible for the lottery, primarily those
who returned to school several years after graduating from high school, will
become eligible for the lottery scholarship - if they enroll in a four-year college
immediately after earning an Associates degree with a 2.5 GPA from a two-year

4. Make New Mexico Native American students eligible for the lottery scholarship
if they attend an accredited New Mexico tribal college, such as the Institute for
American Indian Arts, Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute or Dine College.

5. Give students a flat dollar amount through the Lottery Success Scholarship, rather
than paying tuition directly. By depositing the money into an account at the
university - under the student’s name - this plan will allow families to be eligible
to take the federal tuition tax credit. You can’t do that when you pay a student’s
tuition directly. This will keep up to $6 million in New Mexico that families will
not have to pay in federal taxes.

Governor Richardson also wants to create a new scholarship for those who cannot afford
to go to college. The plan is to set aside money - with a goal of $250 million over several
years -- to create a New Mexico Student Aid Trust Fund that is available for future New

“It is exciting to hear that the Governor's proposals are focused on maintaining the
cumulative surplus currently in the lottery fund while expanding eligibility to serve more
New Mexico students who meet the merit qualifications,” said Tom Shaheen, CEO of the
New Mexico Lottery. “The Lottery Success Scholarship program is currently well funded
and should remain that way for years to come.”

Governor Richardson is also proposing several initiatives that resulted from his Task
Force on Higher Education. The proposals include:

1. Better prepare students for college by beefing up outreach to middle and high
school students - with more mentoring and tutoring. The Governor is recommending
using interest earnings from the surplus in the Lottery Success Scholarship Fund to
expand these outreach programs statewide.

2. Increase graduation rates by linking state funding for higher education to
graduation rates and not just enrollment. The plan is to target low-income students by
giving colleges incentives to do more to make sure they graduate.

3. Provide more opportunities for students to stay in school by creating a system that
allows them to more easily transfer credits between New Mexico universities. The
idea is to use a statewide system that identifies courses for all freshman and
sophomore courses using the same course numbers and titles.

4. Create more accountability by creating a Secretary of Higher Education who will
ensure that our universities and colleges are meeting the highest standards. Governor
Richardson emphasized that he wants to keep local control of colleges by keeping
local boards of regents as the governing bodies.

5. Form a Department of Higher Education with authority to coordinate resources
across the 26 colleges and universities in New Mexico. The goal is to use scarce
resources wisely to improve education for all students who pursue a better future for
themselves and their families. This means taking a statewide view of higher education

Governor Richardson also wants to build on the current efforts to improve K-12
education in the public schools.

“We’re already investing more money in the classroom, and introducing tougher
accountability by linking better pay to higher standards for teachers and student
performance,” Governor Richardson said. “While I am making a substantial commitment
to higher education, we must continue to shore up our public schools so our students are
prepared for success before they reach college.”

Governor Richardson announced five specific initiatives that Secretary of Education
Veronica Garcia will pursue:

1. Create the New Mexico Teaching Corps - a teaching academy that will train
teachers to work in failing schools. The rigorous program, modeled after a similar
effort in Chicago, will train and move teachers - within one year - into classrooms at
corrective-action schools, where they’ll commit to stay for at least five years. The
idea is to produce organizational change in these struggling schools - and keep them
off failing lists for good. I will commit 900-thousand dollars to start the program.

2. Tackle student health and obesity. Governor Richardson already outlined plans to
expand school-based health centers, and reintroduce physical education programs in
every school. He announced plans to introduce “Kids Health First,” which is designed
to phase out junk food items served in schools. He also wants to expand the School
Breakfast program to ensure kids don’t start the school day hungry.

3. Support charter schools by giving organizers the opportunity to apply for charters
directly with the Public Education Department, not just local school boards. The
Governor is also proposing $1 million for stimulus funds, $450,000 in technical
assistance for charter schools, as well as other ideas to strengthen the Charter Schools

4. Allow Home School Students to participate in athletics. Secretary Garcia is
working with the New Mexico Activities Association to provide opportunities for
home-schooled students to participate in athletics in public schools. If the details
can’t work out eligibility issues with the NMAA, the Governor vowed to pursue a
legislative fix.

5. Improve teacher quality, especially in rural New Mexico, by providing recruitment
grants - freeing up money for some school districts to offer signing bonuses to
teachers. The Governor also wants to offer work-study stipends for high school
graduates to encourage them to major in education in college.