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U.S. Statehood Education, 1945-now
Education, 1945-present

Albuquerque’s postwar growth was extraordinary, but new schools were added rapidly. During John Milne’s tenure as superintendent, from 1911 to 1956, the system grew from 5 schools and 1,600 students to 63 schools with 40,000 students.

Bernalillo County’s schools were consolidated into APS in 1949. The district was one of the first in the country to operate its own radio station, KANW-FM, beginning in 1950. In 1958, in cooperation with the University of New Mexico, it began television broadcasting on KNME-TV.

In the past fifty years, the schools have had to adjust to changing family structures and values, increasing language diversity and a variety of educational mandates from state and federal governments. In 1994, Rio Rancho schools separated from the Albuquerque system, but current APS enrollment is still more than 87,000 students in 130 schools, with more than 3,000 teachers and other employees. Charter schools were authorized in 1999, and APS now has more than 30 charter schools educating 6,000 students.

The district has worked to integrate new technologies into its curriculum, with computers and the Internet bringing radical changes to the traditional classroom-textbook method that served previous generations. Two high schools offer high tech academies. West Mesa High School has the Photonics Academy to educate students in optics and photonics from middle school through graduate degrees. It’s the first of its kind in the nation. And Albuquerque High School has the Academy of Advanced Technology, a four-year program that creates career pathways in information technologies and also leads to TVI and UNM.

Parochial and private education kept pace with the growth of the public schools. Although St. Vincent’s Academy closed, St. Pius High School was opened in 1956 to provide Catholic education in the growing Northeast Heights. In 1988 it moved to the former campus of the University of Albuquerque on the West Mesa. (In 1940 the College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande was chartered. In the 1960s it became the University of Albuquerque and closed in the 1980s.)

In the 1950s, the Simms family provided land and resources to create two prep schools -- Albuquerque Academy (originally for boys) and the Sandia School for Girls (now Sandia Prep). Both are co-ed.

In 1974 Albuquerque High School abandoned its aging buildings and moved to its current location.

Albuquerque Indian School continued to educate Pueblo and Navajo students until 1980, when it was transferred to Santa Fe. The buildings were razed in 1987. The growing availability of public schools on or near reservations led to a declining need for government boarding schools.

The University of New Mexico’s enrollment growth paralleled Albuquerque’s postwar growth. President Thomas J. Popejoy, who was the longest serving president of UNM (1948 to 1968), led the development of UNM’s schools of medicine (1965), pharmacy, nursing (1955), law (1952) and business.

Enrollment grew from 1,800 in 1946 to 26,500 students today. UNM has 145 bachelor’s degree programs, 83 master’s programs and 42 doctoral program. And it has branch campuses in four other communities. UNM has also gained a national reputation for research, particularly in medicine and high tech. Funded research in 2004 totaled $278.4 million.

The campus continued to utilize Pueblo revival-style architecture, enhanced by a 20-year relationship with noted architect John Gaw Meem.

Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute began in response to the need for an increasingly skilled workforce. APS established TVI in 1965. Its first nine classes, for 155 students, were in surplus barracks and a vacated elementary school.

TVI, now CNM, became independent in 1979 and has its own board. It has grown from its original campus at Coal and University to include the Montoya campus in the far Northeast Heights, added in 1979; a campus in the South Valley, in 1995; and a West Mesa campus in 2003. With 26,000 students, CNM is the second largest college in New Mexico and the nation’s 55th largest community college.

CNM’s regular curriculum includes arts and sciences, business occupations, health occupations, technologies, and trades and services. In addition CNM offers distance learning for both regular classes and customized classes for companies.

CNM has a long and well-deserved reputation for its responsiveness to employers’ training needs. In 2004 the school added programs in microsystems, aerospace technology and film production to meet new demand in those areas. In 2004 the National Science Foundation awarded a $2.8 million grant to CNM to establish the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education. Also in 2004, the University of California chose CNM to develop a biophotonics technician program, the first of its kind in the nation, based on the excellent national reputation of CNM’s Photonics Technology program. (Biophotonics is the use of light and radiant energy to understand living cells and tissue.)

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