Today, Sunday, I went into school to cleanup after Governor Martinez. Outside of our school, some very unknowing, reckless person had done all they could to rip out a small tree on our front grass area, and left it, all but twisted away from its base, with strips of the bark lying around, on the ground. We had planted it there in memory of a person in our community. If they had known what it means to us, if that person had the benefit of the deep connection of our community, they would never do such a thing.
What I went there for was not this, and still it serves as a symbol. I went to reorganize my classroom, after my co-worker had been re-assigned. There are many classrooms around Albuquerque that don’t have teachers, that are being covered by principals, computer techs, any personnel who might (or might not) be available. There are not enough substitutes to cover the demand. Teachers have left New Mexico, or have gone to other professions. The Martinez administration spins those as “job opportunities” for the unemployed, but the numbers of the vacancies have grown each year under the Martinez administration, just as our rank among states has declined as concerns child welfare. I know the public has grown weary of the outcries from teachers, but those cries fade, as our numbers decline. There are none so sick of the outcries as we, ourselves, but here I am, with nothing to gain personally, once again, calling your attention to this. I am still ranked “highly effective” in this capricious and arbitrary evaluation system, and am close enough to retirement so that when my evaluation swings the other way, I can step to the exit. So what is this about?
In our own city now, hours are being cut at the high school, music and art programs suffer again so that we can fund out-of-state testing companies. The Las Cruces school board, who took a momentary stand against the PED, was threatened with replacement by the Martinez administration, and the noise of democracy is discouraged. Education is the safeguard of democracy, and the continued worsening of it weakens our democracy. We are headed in the wrong direction, there is every indication, and yet we forge ahead, stubbornly staying a course that has visibly worsened education in New Mexico. Now, my own program, a highly successful 3-4-5 inclusion class, where students with special needs have integrated with “regular” students for over a decade, is eradicated, due to the circumstances of the teacher shortage. My co-worker, the special education half of our team, was required to go to a different school, to a classroom where they had no teacher at all. Some of our students cried, some whose most consistent stability comes from school.
Two teachers at our school were uprooted, and reportedly this played out at 1/3 of the schools in APS. Uprooting. Just like that tree. The work of education requires someone with the understanding of the community. The person who knocked over the tree in our front grass area has no community with us, just as it is with the reckless unwitting destruction that the policies the Martinez administration have wrought upon our state. Now that the Martinez administration has driven teachers out, it is my understanding that districts will be fined for classrooms that have too many students.
Tomorrow I will go into a different circumstance, and I will be fine. In fact, my job will be easier. I have loved, and continue to love my job. It was never about easy, though. Meaningfulness is what myself and many others in my profession are driven by. It is the passing forward of our civilization, and it requires the noise of democracy. We hope our our Governor will someday value our community, and all the different voices that comprise it.