A way out of the maze…

Escher's_RelativitySkip to the ideas part ( a couple of paragraphs down) if you want to be spared the re-telling of the miserable state of education admininstration at every level above the schools in New Mexico.

In the last few weeks…

Here’s the replay:  the Albuquerque superintendent of schools was “resigned” after 6 months(!) of (service?), preceded by a superintendent who left through the same door.   The city school board had some questionable dealings in the mix, and our electorate may wake up for a proposed recall, of the ENTIRE board. This would be disastrous, however, because apparently the Public Education Department of New Mexico, (Governor Susana) could replace the ENTIRE board if it were recalled.  Meanwhile, the Governor’s run at becoming the next trophy wife of the GOP may be in jeopardy because of her own education administration’s incompetence, losing  $110 million dollars for our state, an act which “puts our most vulnerable children at risk”, according to the auditor.  All this in the light of high school hours which had to be shortened this year to go toward  paying the state for a test which is probably invalid.

Deeper history… 

The State Board of Education, which had to its credit being a democratic entity, was dismantled in New Mexico under the Richardson administration in favor of having a solitary person, a “Secretary of Education”, who would tzar over all decisions and move the state out of a stalemate.  The trouble, supposedly, was that each person in the former board was scrapping for their own district, without looking at the bigger picture, and there was no apparent forward motion on changing national policies.   The No Child Left Behind policy, was the specific policy (maybe it would have gone better if we just kept the board and remained out of compliance?), which promised to hold the teachers’ collective feet to the fire, (and apparently every other part of their body as well), which then evolved into Obama’s Race to the Top – which did nothing to improve upon these broken policies.

In the lowest voter turnout for a Governor’s race in the history of New Mexico, comes Governor Martinez and Hannah Skandera.  Skandera, who came in with what she may have believed to be a voter mandate, (notice the singular), can’t and doesn’t need to hear the voices of parents, students, and teachers, while aligning the state to the education “reforms”, which had already proven disastrous in Florida, where she came from.  Okay, enough of that, moving on…

Ideas for improvement…

Statewide

We need to return to some democratic entity, a State Board of Education, but perhaps of members who represent policy rather than district, or represent districts other than their own.  Why do we need that?  Education has to be above the election cycle pendulum of politics as much as possible.  Gary King, who ran against Martinez in the last Governor’s race, promised to do away with all of Skandera’s reforms, which just sets up the next round of push back.  We need to stop that.  We need a group which can respond to people between elections, with some staying power, to help improve education in New Mexico.   This may cause slower moving policy, but that would be much longer lasting than policy that is wiped away with each election cycle.

In the city…

Apparently the post of superintendent in APS is too tempting for mere mortals to contend with.  I’ve lost track of the number of superintendents that we’ve had to buy out of town, and the name of the position is being changed to “reallybadintendent”.   We need to bust up this big district.  There needs to be less realm, and more local control.  Maybe four districts, with boards that are not just pass-through agents for whatever the policy du jour the state whips up, but shares power and informs policy with the state.  The tax base needs to be distributed equally, which some current re-districting proposals don’t do well.  This is an opportunity, and the need to change every educational administration structure outside of the school shows up in headlines about daily now.  We can do this.

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