We at the Rio Grande Foundation have often lamented the state of New Mexico’s education systems (both K-12 and higher ed). Well, an experience this weekend has given me some hope that our K-12 system can be reformed. I’m referring to the new “Estancia Valley Classical Charter School” which opened in Moriarty at the start of the 2012-2013 school year. I was privileged to attend its grand opening gala which took place on Friday.
Why would a new charter school bring me such optimism? After all, New Mexico already has more than 100 such schools. Estancia Valley Classical is unique in the charter school world because of one of its major supporters, Hillsdale College. It is one of two charter schools in the NATION to have received Hillsdale’s support through its charter school initiative. Hillsdale too is unique in that it is a liberal arts school with an avowedly free market/liberty-oriented approach to the world. Among other unique features, Hillsdale does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies for any of its operations.
How committed is Hillsdale to this school? Their president, Larry Arn flew out for the event and gave a great talk about the importance of moral virtue in learning and how studying the universal truths in Shakespeare can help students achieve that rarest of all traits, wisdom.
Obviously, this is a great opportunity for New Mexico in general and Moriarty specifically. The crew at Estancia Valley Classical are just getting their “sea legs” after a long and difficult charter application process (I know something about that myself). It will take some time to fully develop as an institution and to “hit its stride,” but I know that I will be watching its development with great anticipation.