[3/9] For Our Future: This Week's Education News & More

by Seth Saavedra │Friday, March 9th, 2018

Friends & Colleagues -

While the political chatter takes a break in the run up to this year's gubernatorial election, our drive for better educational outcomes continues. There is no rest for the weary, particularly for our students who entrust their futures to schools daily.

This week New Mexico teachers got a well deserved raise, but the real question is are we raising our expectations of what's possible for all students? And where is the leadership needed to move us up from the bottom of so many lists? I don't see it yet, but am pushing daily. Until then, here's this week's roundup:

[LOCAL: NEWS] Governor Martinez Bolsters Education Spending. The Gov signed our $6.3 billion budget, which includes pay raises for all school staff, and a few vetoes. She eliminated language requiring union input on whether districts adopt a pay-for-performance initiative.

No surprise there. What is surprising is that the Albuquerque Teacher's Federation represents only 54% of ABQ teachers. Perhaps New Mexico should mimic Florida and require teacher unions to recertify with a majority. Especially as ATF leadership continuously proves itself to be the most regressive voice in New Mexico education.

[LOCAL: NEWS] Denver Superintendent Visits Albuquerque. Superintendent Tom Boasberg came to Albuquerque to share about the recent successes of Denver Public Schools, one of the fastest growing districts in the country. DPS has embraced a broad change plan with explicit focus on equity.

Never missing a chance to naysay, APS Board of Education President David Peercy rebutted by incorrectly stating that Denver spends more to get these results. Sorry David, but that's wrong.

Here are the facts: APS has 84,000 students in 142 schools and a $1.34 billion dollar budget. Meanwhile, DPS has 92,000 students in 199 schools and a $1.3 billion dollar budget. DPS has more students (who are just as diverse and impoverished) in more schools and the same budget. When this is the untrue rhetoric from APS's board president, it's no wonder citizens are skeptical of any bond or tax revenue increases for the district.

[NATIONAL: RESEARCH] NCTQ Tells Us How To Address Licensure Shortages. Amidst the constant drum beat of a "teacher shortage" we find the sound of logic. The National Council on Teacher Quality delineates the necessary components to address inevitable fluctuations in teacher supply. These include:

  1. Publicly reported teacher training data relevant to district hiring needs, and
  2. Clear guidelines on program acceptance numbers by certification areas.

Unfortunately, NCTQ rates New Mexico at the bottom on both measures. As I've written over and over, there is no "teacher shortage". Rather, there is a shortcoming in our systems and data in addressing specific licensure needs.

[NATIONAL: RESEARCH] Whatever Happened to All Those New & Better State Tests? The means by which we measure student learning is an unending debate. There are constant promises about a "new & better" assessment. Where are those, then? Education First tells us that independent reviews of different state tests turn up wide variations in quality and depth. The rub: PARCC remains at the top of the list, beating Advanced Placement, Smarter Balanced, and the ACT. To be the champ you have to beat the champ.


Despite promises and gripes PARCC reigns supreme


[NATIONAL: STORY] Educational Pluralism: The Path to Fairness. The United States opted for a uniform public school system in the late-19th century. However, most democracies chose a plural school system, where the government routinely funds a variety of diverse schools. Dr. Ashley Berner argues that this method of educational pluralism embodies a far better structure for public education and suggests interim steps to get the United States there. And if you haven't read her book I highly recommend the quick, paradigm-shifting read.