Steve Schmidt, New Mexico State Board of Education
Steve Schmidt, the NM Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor in 1994, and platform chair and principal drafter of the NM Green Platform, has been a member of the State Board of Education (SBE) since í95 when he was confirmed by the State Senate after extensive hearings.í
Schmidt has taken on the constitutional responsibility of educational policy and oversight of around 1/2 of NMís state budget. MNM has had an ìequalization formulaî distribution of education fuds since 1974 and was one of the first stats to seek equitable educational spending via a statewide funding system. A relatively poor state, NM has consistently rated education as one of the most important public concerns.
The NM Green platform sets out education as its ìfoundationî and beings its discussion of social justice and equal opportunity with a long, detailed set of education goals. I have often drawn from the platform in my work and regularly consulted with NM Greens on education issues.
During my term, Iíve developed and pushed an unprecedented number of education initiatives, with great success. It can now be said that an independent, Green educational perspective has been clearly heard within the state Capitol and Department of Education.
My most significant ëgreení achievement is that for the first time, NM students wil have environmental studies in their science standards and curriculum, the result of language I added to newly adopted SBE performance standards and benchmarks. By memorializing good science and environmental ed requirements, NMís students are assured a solid scientific, environmental curriculum and education. Other important initiatives Iíve pursued:
ï as a member o the state educational plan committee, Iíve helped draft NMís first-ever ìStrategic Plan for NM Public Schoolsí;
ï I was instrumental in putting together the last two legislative packages for the SBE, which in í96 tripled educational spending over the amount proposed by the Governor and legislature
ï I worked to put constitutional amendments o the ballot for enhanced revenues (they passed);
ï I initiated law suits against oil and gas companies that were under-reporting their royalties to the state trust funds (which are major sources of educational funding), and the subsequent settlements will add tens of millions of dollars into NMís educational fund flow;
ï I successfully pushed to fund full NM scholarships for all high school students graduation in good standing
ï I coordinated SBE technology initiatives, including state education telecommunications planning and budgeting; NetDay; the Western Governor (virtual) University start-up; distance learning efforts; the Department of Educationsí information and instructional materials restructuring, and web page design
ï I recently chaired the stat Boardís Special Projects committee, funding a larger number of worthwhile education projects with emphases on high risk students, dropouts, Native American needs, and teacher training;
ï Iíve been appointed to be Special liaison to the Commission on Higher Education, to draft five- and ten-year plans for NMís college and university system;íí
ï I am the SBE Representative to the Dept of Human Services, to assist in the development of education, jobs and welfare reform.
I hope he experiences of ëolderí Greens like myself will help us realize what is possible. We need to be seen as ëserious and credibleí. The Gren platform is our foundation and our platform flows from our key values. We must also practice what we preach. As we consider ëcritical thinking skillsí language that has been added to our stateís educational standards, we should look to improve our own ëcritical thinking skillsí and reasoned argument I our political debate, at whatever level we are involved. We must become a critical conscience as we attempt to elevate the debate and improve the quality of public decision-making. This is our ongoing challenge.
On the state board, my daily goal has been to work with great energy and care. Iíve tried to give New Mexicoís children my very best, to make real difference in a very short period of time. Itís been overwhelming at times, but I think weíve made some profound changes for the better. Iím thankful for having and the opportunity to serve, as a Green and as a strong voice for New Mexicoís young people.