[6/24] For Our Future: This Week's Education News & More

by Seth Saavedra │Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Friends & Colleagues -

Summer is officially here, but that hasn't stopped the train of education news from rolling onward. Fresh off the incredibly inspiring NM Teacher Summit, I have news covering all corners of our great state - and even some reporting on The Land of Enchantment from a national journalist.

I was also asked to share two great opportunities:

Great things are happening here at home and folks are taking notice! Here's this week's roundup:

[LOCAL: NEWS] Third Annual NM Teacher Summit Highlights Craft of Teaching. Over 1300 educators came to Albuquerque's Convention Center last week to celebrate their craft and recognize some of the best teachers in the state. This third annual summit provides teachers professional development through 200+ sessions covering everything from culturally-centered instruction to PARCC preparation.

I spent Monday at the summit and left inspired by the knowledge, passion, and dedication of our educators. I spoke to teachers from across New Mexico and - though there is a range of opinions on NMTeach, school grades, and the Common Core - the prevailing theme was optimism about our progress and a desire to not slide backwards. I hope our next Governor listens to these voices and has the courage to smartly evolve us forward.

The atmosphere of the Teacher Summit was filled with excitement and empowerment. Teach Plus recommends high quality PD led by teachers and the flexibility for teachers to choose their ownPD, this is exactly what happened.
— Hope Morales, State Director for Teach Plus NM
It was amazing to see teachers come together from across the state with one common goal: strengthen our teaching practices in a collaborative environment. I heard from actual teachers across the state about realistic and engaging tools to make my teaching better, and I had a great time while learning.
— Elizabeth Ann Long, Photographer & Middle School Teacher in Farmington

[NATIONAL: NEWS] New Mexico Catches Attention of National Journalist. Peter Cunningham, former communications secretary for Arne Duncan, came to New Mexico last week and left impressed with our progress.

He also heard what I did, a desire for stability: "Time will tell if reform will survive New Mexico’s shifting political climate but, from the energy [at the Teacher Summit] it is clear that many New Mexico teachers are excited to be a part of it and eager to be leaders in their field."

[LOCAL: NEWS] First Ever Teacher Preparation Report Cards Released. For the first time in our history, New Mexico's 13 Education Preparation Programs (EPPs) earned something they've given to thousands of educators: a letter grade.

Using the four factors below, NMPED delivered on its promise to provide more transparency to educators on the quality of training their institution provides:

  • Admissions: ability to attract a diverse and academically prepared pool of candidates;

  • Candidate Promise: ability to develop candidates who demonstrate competence while enrolled in the program;

  • Hiring and Retention: degree to which the graduates of the EPP are able to secure jobs in education in New Mexico, meet the needs of the state, and persist in the profession; and

  • Graduate Performance: graduates' performance in the state’s classrooms.

All told, there are zero As, four Bs, 8 Cs, and one D. See the full breakdown here. As I've shared previously, these reports and grades are a vital step to ensuring we have "day one ready" teachers entering classrooms.

[LOCAL: NEWS] Valley HS in Albuquerque Offers Unique Program. Led by Jay Leonard of Zuni Pueblo, the program offers beadwork, storytelling, and other classes aimed at integrating culture and academics. "From 8 a.m. to noon at Valley High School, about 200 Native American students took advantage of the program this summer with breakfast and lunch provided."


Sheiyann Thomas, 12, shares her story and art she made during the summer program’s storytelling class. Greg Sorber //Albuquerque Journal.


[LOCAL: NEWS] Pension Board's Generous Raise for Itself Blocked by Governor. Doing its best "let them eat cake" impression, "the board that oversees New Mexico’s pension system for educators wants to give its top executives pay raises that average 28 percent – enough to push the top two earners to above $240,000 a year." Mind you this is a board with an estimated unfunded liability of $7.4 billion (with a "b") and is part of the reason Moody's downgraded New Mexico's bond rating last week.

Inept New Mexico education leaders lining their pockets is nothing new nor unique. In fact, last year Albuquerque PS renewed its superintendent at $250k/year and Santa Fe PS just gave its leader an extension and raise to $184,500/year. Both make more than the governor and mayors of their respective cities.

Apparently, leading school districts (and retirement funds) to mediocrity is highly lucrative work - if one can get it.

[NATIONAL: RESEARCH] Equity Profile of Albuquerque Released. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a New Mexico philanthropic staple, released this insightful report last week. "Albuquerque is a growing, majority people-of-color city that is becoming even more diverse. Yet, persistent inequities by race, gender, and geography hold the city back. Embracing rising diversity as an asset and advancing equity is Albuquerque’s path to a prosperous future."