[7/26] For Our Future: This Week's Education News & More

by Seth Saavedra │Thursday, July 26th, 2018

Friends & Colleagues -

We are only days away from the start of a new school year! In fact, some schools are already putting in hard work. As teachers prepare their classrooms and minds, students excitedly pick out new backpacks and first-day outfits. This annual ritual is part of a profound relationship we often take for granted.

Parents entrust their most precious possession to a system over which they have little control. For many students, school is a haven and their best bet to lead lives of opportunity and self-determination. Teachers pour forth immeasurable energy to fulfill their end of the unspoken promise to provide every student an excellent education. Administrators arrive on campus ready to put out all of the thousands of fires that'll inevitably arise. School staff do all they can to make everyone's lives better, showing up before the sun rises and leaving after it's gone to bed.

For all our best intentions and efforts, we know that the promise of Public Education goes unfulfilled for too many students, though there is venomous disagreement about the reasons why. This question is at the heart of the recently ruled on (and soon-to-be-appealed) Yazzie v. State of New Mexico case. Read the full decision here. I'll reserve my deeper commentary for a forthcoming post, but my quick take is: Yes, more money is needed; no, more money isn't the sole answer. I'll say more on this in the coming week.

And, with that, here's this week's roundup:

[LOCAL: PROFILE] NMTrue Continues Teacher Series. As part of their ongoing series profiling local teachers, New Mexico True has released two more inspiring stories. The first video featured Andrea Thomas of Shiprock (who completed a Coffee Break interview recently), while these two feature teachers from Albuquerque and Carlsbad. Both videos are well worth a couple of watches - and make sure to share them around.


[LOCAL: STORY] Santa Fe School Keeps Waldorf Tradition Alive. Mike McShane of Ed Choice chats with Jeffrey Baker, the school administrator of the Santa Fe Waldorf School. This PreK through 12th grade school follows the nearly 100-year-old, hands-on educational model put forth by Rudolf Steiner. Listen to the podcast below or read the transcript to learn more about how this school developed, challenges it has overcome, and more.

[LOCAL: NEWS] APS Still Has No Approved Plan for Hawthorne Elementary. As I've documented endlessly, the back and forth over one of New Mexico's lowest performing schools continues. NMPED wants APS to agree to close the school by 2021 if it earns a seventh consecutive F for the 2017-18 school year. Yet, APS refuses to sign off on this stipulation, which is nothing less than dereliction of duty. In what world does an organization have a failing department for the better part of a decade and still refuse to even consider shuttering it in favor of a new strategy? This says more about APS's belief in their ability to turnaround the school than anything else. 

[NATIONAL: NEWS] Latinx Voters Poised to Lead U.S. Education Conversation. With the number of Latinx voters growing, paired with growing political activism in response to anti-immigration policies, Education looks to be an important place for their influence. Nationally, there is some good news for Latinx students, while large gaps remain:

"While the number of Latinos nationally who are going to college is slowly increasing, they are still not graduating from college at the same rate as their peers. In 2016, 47 percent of Latino high school graduates ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college, but just 15 percent graduated from college, according to the Pew Research Center. In comparison, about 41 percent of whites completed college.Latinos’ high school dropout rates are also higher, at 10 percent in 2016, compared with 6 percent for all students."


[NATIONAL: BLOG] It's Not Standardized Tests Educators Hate, It's Accountability. Fire-breathing parent and education advocate Chris "Citizen" Stewart cuts through the fog and gets right to the heart of the PARCC debate we see locally:

"Is expecting schools to do a summative test annually so the public and lawmakers have some sense of school performance and progress so unreasonable that it rises to the level of “obsession”? Only if you have no interest in knowing who and where education is failing. You demand my kids. I require your receipts. Any other arrangement is war."