Today, in a message sent on behalf of the (ostensibly bipartisan) Legislative Education Study Committee, Sen. Mimi Stewart (D) writes: “For the last eight years, the [Martinez] administration has been intent on moving on its version of reform with little input from the people’s representatives or the educators in the trenches.” (Why yes, Mimi and I do have history.)
This sentence is an odd fit in a newsletter calling for “respectful dialogue” and for opposing viewpoints to “work together on a comprehensive solution.” Never one to miss the opportunity to bash those who don’t fall in line, Sen. Stewart readily speaks out of both sides of her mouth.
Never mind that NMPED has spent more time in schools and classrooms across New Mexico than ever seen before. Never mind the formation of the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network, the Secretary Teacher’s Advisory, the Parent Leader Network, and the Student Leader Network. Let’s ignore the annual New Mexico Teacher Summit that brought more than 1300 teachers to Albuquerque this summer.
You see, what Senator Stewart really means is that she is sick and tired of those who disagree with her (and her union leader buddies) not kowtowing. They and they alone have all the answers. And diversity is important to them in as much as it’s something they can control and leverage to provide credibility to their finger pointing and laundry list of stale ideas.
They say all the right things about educating Hispanic and Native students, then do nearly none of them. Their silence was deafening on a recent, nationally-covered assault in an Albuquerque high school that saw a Native student have her hair cut by a teacher who then called another Native student a “bloody Indian”. NOT ONE PEEP from these folks on what can only be described as horrific. They value their campaign dollars more than the dignity of our students.
As the tip of the spear for the Governor-Elect’s current “Roll Back Everything” education strategy, Sen. Stewart is surely thrilled to see the union leader representation on the NMPED transition team:
How’s that “diversity” looking? In a state where 61 percent of students are Hispanic - with another 14 percent Native, Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander - this is the jarring reality of who will soon be calling all the shots for K12 education in NM.
Already teachers across the state are calling for more teacher voices, including those from charter schools, rural districts, and not represented by the two large unions. Others are calling for the Governor-Elect to make sensible improvements to what’s already working, particular for our most historically disenfranchised students.
Yes, there are important questions to answer about where public education in NM goes from here. While progress has been made, we have much further to go. What’s also true is we won’t move forward by continually taking three or four steps backwards. Blindly wiping the slate clean only hurts teachers and students, while ignoring nearly a decade of important progress. Instead, let’s do the hard work of enacting change on behalf of all students, from Dulce to Deming.
So, for those interested in truly hearing a diverse array of perspectives, check out the following reading list from just the past week:
Joel Hutchinson (+24 teachers) – “Maintain teacher leader programs”
Alan Hill – “Loosen the grip of teachers unions on policy”
Lastly, LESC is meeting this week, starting on Wednesday, 12/12. If you can, come up to Santa Fe, or watch a web cast here.