Amanda Aragon on making New Mexico schools excellent

Evaluation Lab News

Posted: Mar 29, 2022 - 12:00am

Amanda Aragon speaking with MPP student

Amanda Aragon is the Executive Director of New Mexico Kids Can, a non-profit that aims to improve education for all kids in New Mexico by promoting options and accountability.

Ms. Aragon has had a number of experiences that have led her to the work she does in education policy. First, as a freshman at the University of Oklahoma she befriended others from New Mexico and they discovered that each of them was struggling with the college-level work. They all felt that they were not as prepared as their peers from other states. Ms. Aragon graduated from Rio Rancho High School; her parents moved the family there because Rio Rancho Public Schools have better academic outcomes than Albuquerque Public Schools. During her time in college, Ms. Aragon wondered, if someone who went to a “good school” in New Mexico is struggling with college courses, then how much harder must it be for someone who went to an average school?

Later in her life while she was working for Conoco Philips in Farmington she had another experience that drove her towards education policy. The company was trying to recruit employees to New Mexico and running into the same issue over and over: people did not want to move to this state because of how poorly New Mexico’s education system is rated. Because of this realization, she watched the Public Education Department and legislative sessions very carefully, in  her own words, she became obsessed. She discovered that there were no organizations with the purpose of improving education across the entire state.  Ms. Aragon decided that if things were going to get better, then the community needed to be involved in a big way to avoid the dramatic shift in policies and priorities that occur when the governorship changes parties.  

Ms. Aragon knows that New Mexico can have a great education system. She believes it will take community involvement and education, providing more options so parents can easily find the school that best fits their child’s needs, and not settling for anything less than New Mexico becoming among the best states for education.