Education secretary visits area

William Thompson

Dr. Veronica C. Garcia, New Mexico’s Secretary of Education, concluded a whirlwind visit of Quay County Schools Thursday. Garcia visited Logan, San Jon and House schools all within a 24-hour period. Additionally, Garcia met for two hours with Tucumcari’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. William Reents, Wednesday evening.

Reents said he discussed President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” education initiatives with Garcia.

“Dr. Garcia and I talked about the various state and federal standards that our schools must meet,” said Reents. “We talked specifically about the “No Child Left Behind” program’s emphasis on testing and accountability. There are so many government agencies that our schools are accountable too.”

Reents said he and Garcia also talked about gaining greater accreditation for Tucumcari Elementary School.
“Tucumcari Elementary School now meets the requirements for national accreditation,” said Reents. “Dr. Garcia and I talked about how we can aggressively move forward now and gain national accreditation from the North Central Association for the elementary school. The North Central Association is a major national accrediting association.”

After an overnight stay in Tucumcari, Garcia arrived at San Jon School around noon Thursday to meet with San Jon Superintendent of Schools, Joel Henry. Henry said Garcia was visiting the area schools mainly just to get to know the current school officials better and to take a look at the area schools.

“She came today during lunch time,” said Henry. “I figured that was as good a time as any for her to see us as we really are. It’s been two or three years since she last visited here.”

Henry hoped that he would have the opportunity to ask Garcia about the possibility of consolidation of smaller schools with bigger schools. Henry was concerned that if San Jon School was consolidated with Tucumcari Schools then too much control would be centered in Tucumcari. Henry said he felt San Jon would be better off staying a small community-oriented school.

Garcia quickly put talk of consolidation to rest during her visit to San Jon School.

“Consolidation of schools is not on the radar screen at all,” said Garcia. “Consolidation is not the way to enhance education for schools in rural area.”

Superintendents Reents and Henry both said they thought highly of Garcia as the Secretary of Education. Reents actually served on a commission that recommended Garcia for the post.

“Dr. Garcia is an outstanding lady, a very hard worker,” said Reents. “I think she’s the person we need in that position.”
Superintendent Henry echoed Reents’ praise for Garcia.

“What I like about Dr. Garcia is that she has experience both at the administrative level and at the teaching level,” said Henry. “I’m glad she was picked for the job.”