[5/11] For Our Future: This Week's Education News & More

by Seth Saavedra │Friday, May 11th, 2018

Friends & Colleagues -

As we near the end of Teacher Appreciation Week (in the Year of Educators' Voices Rising) here are a few posts by and for teachers from across the country:

I've rounded up education news from across New Mexico and included powerful investigative reporting on the lengths suburban districts go to exclude certain outsiders. As always, thanks for reading and drop me a line to let me know what you think - or what I've missed. Here's this week's roundup:

[LOCAL: NEWS] Pre-K Funding Increased By 31 PercentNMPED announced a nearly $10 million increase for full- and half-day pre-k programs across the state. As reported by the Albuquerque Journal: "$4.37 million [goes] into the new programs at districts across the state, and an additional $5.66 million for expanding, existing programs." The end result is a total of 65 districts, six state-authorized charter schools, and 6,786 students will participate in the upcoming school year.

This methodical rollout of pre-k programs to districts and areas who've already laid the necessary groundwork strikes me as a far better approach than a $400 million Land Grant Fund windfall, while achieving the same goal of expanded services to all New Mexico students. All our students deserve high-quality pre-k, not merely the opportunity for any pre-k.


[LOCAL: NEWS] Legislative Finance Committee Finds Poor Connection Between Funding and Student Learning. As if on cue, the LFC released a report this week finding that “there was a weak relationship between per-student federal funding and low-income student proficiency in English and math.” This debate is well-documented in education research and shouldn't be a surprise.

However, this doesn't and shouldn't mean that we shouldn't increase spending - or even decrease funds. Rather we need to continue invest in evidence-based initiatives "including preschool for low-income families, teacher mentorship programs, and an extended school year."

[LOCAL: NEWS] Homegrown Mentorship Programs Earn Acclaim. Speaking of mentorship programs, we are getting recognition for two we've grown in house: Teachers Pursuing Excellence (TPE) and Principals Pursuing Excellence (PPE).

Both programs pair high-performing mentors with mentees seeking to improve based in part on NMTeach, our teacher evaluation system. Results of the programs indicate there is particular benefit for American Indian students, who have historically lagged all other student demographics, including in NAEP:

SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics

[NATIONAL: REPORTING] "Kicked Out" Follows District Efforts to Remove Out of Boundary FamiliesA Philadelphia reporter explores what districts do to make sure they only serve students in their tightly and strategically drawn boundaries. And - surprise! - he finds those efforts stink of racial and economic disparity.

Reached on the phone earlier this week by Alexander Russo, Wolfman-Arent shared that he’s heard about the issue over the years and thought that it was an interesting and somewhat different way to get at race, inequality, and funding issues: “It does seem that in districts that do this, if you’re a student of color, you’re more likely to be kicked out.”


Octavia Durham is surrounded by five of the seven grandchildren who live with her and attend Pottsgrove Public Schools., (from left) Mason Dargan, 5, Tarienah Chandler Smith, 9, Miyana Francis, 14, K'Lliyah Smith, 15, and Mikhi Dargan, 9. (Emma Lee/WHYY)