What can we do? New Mexico is now circling the drain in education, according to this August 2nd Albuquerque Journal article titled “New survey ranks NM’s education system almost last in the nation”. Let’s first learn from what we have done, which education is all about. Six years ago, New Mexico education was ranked around 35th by some measures, which people will contest, but certainly not near 50th by any measures. There certainly is room for improvement as 35th, but what happened that we are now almost dead last? We collapsed our elected state education board to a single “education secretary” position, designated by the governor. This was to bring us swiftly into compliance with the federal law, remnants of the “No Child Left Behind” which evolved into “Race to the Top”, with packaged deals from publishers and test companies. Hannah Skandera, our Education Secretary, is the chairperson for the PARCC organization, whose test is the statewide tool.
The implementation of these reforms were rushed and feedback about their effects on the classroom was assumed to be whining from stationed individuals that needed turning. The reforms were put in knowing that there would be “collateral damage”- casualties in with the old guard in teaching, etc., that would be well worth the trade if we could just hold to the long view.
Six years later, with end-to-end years of hundreds of teaching vacancies, budget cuts, and sinking morale, Skandera reports that it is the educator’s attitude that is the actual problem, and it will take decades more to fix, according to the Journal article dated January 13, 2016, titled “Skandera blames NM education troubles on low expectations”.
More than pointing fingers, and saying to wait “decades”, we should go ahead with a plan to improve things NOW. Let’s stop spending millions of dollars on out-of-state student tests and textbooks, and teacher evaluation companies whose products clearly have not improved anything in our state. Many of those things are available RIGHT NOW for free online. Ask me how, I know how to do this. So do many of us. This is not military protocol, for us to “do as we are told”. It’s what the military fight for: our democracy. Hear our voice, and we can teach.
Monte Vista Elementary
Educators, help build: OpenSourceEd.org.