Monthly Archives: January 2018

A Better Plan

hopeNew Mexico has focused resources and years in large amount on systems of accountability in education. When we began this pursuit, the research showed that the closest correlation to test scores was socio-economics.  Hundreds of millions of dollars and a decade later, we have relentlessly proven what we already knew, that test scores most closely correlate to socio-economic status.  It makes sense that poverty and trauma preoccupy people to the exclusion of learning, and instead of improving education by holding educators accountable for this, we have driven out educators, as well as many other New Mexicans.  Instead of attracting highly qualified educators to the profession, the original stated goal of this process, we are one of the least attractive states for educators, which has the added effect of driving away business or other positive influences on our economy, creating more poverty and trauma that deepens with each cycle, because with each generation it becomes a self perpetuating, more ingrained part of the culture.  If we had spent equal amounts on child nutrition, the education of families, and early childhood education, the need to hold someone accountable for the educational outcomes of those causes would have been greatly diminished.  We would have been on the other side of the feedback loop, the likes of Amazon would not so easily dismiss our state as a viable place to do business.

Jeff Apodaca’s plan to jumpstart the state by using a percentage of the 23 billion dollars we have is the only plan I’ve heard of bold enough to intervene in the death spiral New Mexico is in.  I have not heard from any other candidate for governor anything that will change our course, only timid proposals which will cement our identity as the state of the poor, abused, highest in crime, and 50th in everything else.  I like the guy who keeps talking about hope, who has articulated a clear plan.  I urge you to research the platforms of each of the gubernatorial candidates, whichever way you vote.  Here is Jeff’s.  

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Filed under Education, politics, Politics in education, Standardized Tests, testing

Thanks to New Mexico Music Educators


nmmeaI went to an event, Saturday, the 14th of January, which was the gathering of excellent musical students from around the state, all-state music. More than a thousand students bussed in, provided room and board, and instructed by world-class conductors from all over the country, in a few days to a triumphant culmination in a concert at Popejoy. I feel like the next time I see a music educator, I will reach into my back pocket and hand them whatever cash is there, and my credit cards, the keys to my car, my house, and then perhaps a wookie-life debt, or whatever my equivalent offering could be.

The great hope and potential of a student can get lost in the maze that young people must navigate. Yet here rises these peaks of excellence, enough inspiration for the next three thousand valleys, if they can just hang on to the memory of that, remember the soaring heights they are capable of. My daughter was part of the group of musicians that played “The Pines of Rome”.  No words here will suffice.

There is no endeavor that articulates better the contours of the soul, the panorama of the intangible complexities, which defy data. Music educators have long suffered the indignity of the trappings of accountability; the continuing fumbling at quantitative analysis of the qualitative, simply because music educators know that they give something so valuable it is immeasurable. There is available in our state this community, a connection to something bigger than themselves, discipline and focus, and the quality of life found in a passion for excellence. This well, in our (often) desert, is filled by the life work of music educators.

However indescribable the connection, the intrinsic value of music is not without evidence. The Guardian reported in October that a British school turned around test scores, not by focusing more on math and language, but by adding six hours of music per week. Music has powerful and visible effects on the brain for the old and young. Our music educators have always intrinsically known this, their actions have always supported this, and they have well articulated this truth with more power than words, if we would only listen. I fear my own expression of gratitude will never be enough, but it is what I have to offer, you wonderful, amazing people that comprise the New Mexico Music Educators Association: thank you.

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