Albuquerque, NMU.S. Senate candidate Mick Rich unveiled his plan to strengthen New Mexico’s schools at Gilbert L. Sena Charter High School. The plan focuses on getting the federal government out of the classroom, building up public schools and growing innovation and choice, increasing vocational and skills training, and making higher education more affordable.

“Bureaucrats, politicians, and special interests have been putting themselves first and our students second for far too long,” Mick Rich said. “My plan focuses on empowering parents, teachers, and schools to better prepare students for success. As a general contractor for 35 years, I’ve seen our economy and workforce change dramatically, and it is time to change our education system to give our students what they need to build a brighter future. As New Mexico’s next U.S. senator, I will work hard to make this vision a reality.”

Rich’s plan calls for getting the federal government out of the classroom by restoring control of education to parents, teachers, and communities. Rolling back one-size-fits-all federal mandates like No Child Left Behind and fostering parental engagement to support academic success will put parents, teachers, and communities back in the driver’s seat.

The plan also boosts vocational and skills training to better prepare students to succeed in a changing workforce by: increasing STEM education, and trade and vocational training, and creating short-term workforce Pell grants to improve job training. Rich also proposes allowing veterans to enter into pre-apprenticeship programs to better transfer their skills and training from military service into the workforce, and reforming and streamlining federal laws and bureaucracy on apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to prepare students for today’s workforce,” Associated Builders and Contractors New Mexico Chapter President Roxanne Rivera-Wiest said. “But federal laws and bureaucracy are in dire need of reform. Mick Rich’s plan will help cut through red tape and better equip New Mexicans to enter today’s dynamic workforce.”

A third element of the plan is expanding school choice and innovation. According to the National Alliance for Public Charters, charter school enrollment in the U.S. has tripled since 2006 – to more than 3 million students. The success of school choice shows the importance of innovation and competition in education. Targeting investment on students will allow funding to follow them through their entire education with vouchers, savings accounts, and scholarship programs. 529 savings accounts would also be expanded to include K through 12 education expenses.

“Our charter schools are an important asset to our education system,” Gilbert L. Sena Charter High School Executive Director Nadine Torres said. “By increasing options for families to choose how to educate their students, more New Mexicans will be able to access the right path for success.”

The fourth element of the plan seeks to make higher education more affordable and accessible. New Mexico’s colleges and universities are among the most affordable in the nation. Yet as New Mexico continues to lag behind the rest of the country in poverty and college enrollment, higher education institutions in the state continue to raise costs – by 30 percent since 2004. Rich’s plan calls for streamlining and reforming federal student financial aid through shared accountability for colleges and universities in repaying student loans, consolidating income-driven repayment options into a single plan, and capping monthly payments at 12.5 percent of income and forgiving balances after 15 years.

Mick Rich’s complete education plan is available online here.

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